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Papers of the Week

Papers: 13 May 2023 - 19 May 2023

Psychology, Sex/Gender/Race, Social Aspects

Human Studies, Sex Differences


2023 May 15

J Pain


Public chronic pain stigma and the role of pain type and patient gender: An experimental vignette study.


Van Alboom M, Baert F, Bernardes FS, Bracke P, Goubert L


Research exploring the specific manifestations of chronic pain (CP) public stigma is scarce. One potential factor influencing public stigma manifestations may be the CP type, i.e., the presence (secondary CP) or absence (primary CP) of a clearly identifiable pathophysiology. Furthermore, patient gender may play a key role, whereby pain-related gender stereotypes may evoke distinct gender role expectations towards men and women experiencing CP. The aim of the research was two-fold. First, by means of an experimental vignette design, the general population’s cognitive, affective and behavioral responses were investigated, both towards primary versus secondary CP and towards men versus women. Second, a potential interaction was examined between CP type and patient gender. The research is divided into two separate samples: individuals with CP (N= 729) and individuals without CP (N= 283). Factorial ANOVA models were estimated with CP type, patient gender and participant gender included as factors, age as control variable. The findings support, partly, the general hypothesis of higher (perceived) public stigma towards individuals with primary (vs. secondary) CP. No main effects of patient gender were observed. Gender bias in stigmatizing manifestations only emerged in certain contextual circumstances (i.e., pain type and participant gender). Different interaction effects (with a combination of gender, patient gender or CP type) were significant for the distinctive outcome variables. Interestingly, throughout the findings, different patterns of results are found in both samples. The study contributes to the literature on CP stigma, as well as the psychometric examination of items assessing stigmatizing manifestations. PERSPECTIVE: This study examined the role of contextual factors chronic pain type and patient gender into cognitive, affective, and behavioral stigmatizing manifestations coming from the general population towards individuals with chronic pain through an experimental vignette study. The study contributes to the chronic pain stigma literature, as well as the psychometric examination of items assessing stigmatizing manifestations.