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Open Access Is There a Gender Bias in Recommendations for Further Rehabilitation in Primary Care of Patients with Chronic Pain After an Interdisciplinary Team Assessment?

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Objective: To examine potential gender bias in recommendations of further examination and rehabilitation in primary care for patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain after an interdisciplinary team assessment.

Methods: The population consisted of consecutive patients (n = 589 women, 262 men) referred during a 3-year period from primary healthcare for assessment by interdisciplinary teams at a pain specialist rehabilitation clinic. Patient data were collected from the Swedish Quality Registry for Pain Rehabilitation. The outcome was defined as the examination or rehabilitation that was specified in the patient's record.

Results: Men had a significantly higher likelihood than women of being recommended physiotherapy and radiological examination, and the gender difference was not explained by confounding variables and covariates (age, marital status, ethnicity, education, working status, pain severity, pain interference, pain sites, anxiety and depression). There was no significant gender difference in recommendations to treatment by specialist physician, occupational therapist, psychologist or social worker.

Conclusion: Our findings indicate that the interdisciplinary teams in specialist healthcare may discriminate against women with chronic pain when physiotherapy and radiological investigation are recommended. The team's choice of recommendations might be influenced by gendered attitudes, but this field of research needs to be studied further.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2015

More about this publication?
  • Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine is the international peer-reviewed journal published in English, with at least 10 issues published per year.

    Original articles, reviews, case reports, short communications, special reports and letters to the editor are published, as also are editorials and book reviews. The journal strives to provide its readers with a variety of topics including: functional assessment and intervention studies, clinical studies in various patient groups, methodology in physical and rehabilitation medicine, epidemiological studies on disabling conditions and reports on vocational and sociomedical aspects of rehabilitation.

    The journal is read by a wide group of healthcare professionals including specialists in rehabilitation medicine, neurology, clinical neurophysiology, general medicine, psychologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and social workers.

    Contributions from all parts of the world and from different professions in rehabilitation are welcome.

    ISI Impact Factor 2009: 1.882.

    Owned by Foundation of Rehabilitation Information.

    Since the Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine is an Open Access journal, the contents will no longer be provided via Ingenta Connect after December 31, 2020. To continue accessing the journal free of charge please go to
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