Research shows women wait longer for pain diagnosis than men

Women in the UK are experiencing longer diagnosis time than men for the same pain, according to a new survey that shows the Gender Pain Gap has widened this year. 

New research has revealed that less than half (47%) of women surveyed received a diagnosis within 11 months compared to two thirds (66%) of men. 

Various reasons have been given, including women feeling like their healthcare professional hasn’t taken their pain seriously or dismissing it, feeling uncomfortable talking about their pain, or being worried they will be judged as a moaner.  

It’s not surprising then that nearly a quarter (23%) of women surveyed have not even tried to seek a diagnosis for the pain they experience, compared to just over one in 10 (13%) men. 

These statistics form part of Nurofen’s Gender Pain Gap Index Report which investigates for the second year the bias that exists when it comes to women’s and men’s experiences and treatment of pain. 

“It’s concerning to see that the gender pain gap has increased,” said author and sociologist Dr Marieke Bigg.

“Whether this means women are becoming more vocal about the problems they face, or whether medical sexism has intensified, we need to respond to this evidence and make changes to healthcare provision. 

“We’re seeing more recognition of the issue, but we are still a long way from closing the gap. Women need to start feeling listened to and supported in getting the help they need.” 

The research from Nurofen also found that pain is having a bigger impact on women’s quality of life and mental health. Nearly a third of women (30%) said that experiencing pain is affecting their social life, while over a quarter of women (27%) say their pain has affected their mental health in a negative way, compared to over a fifth of men (21%). 

With more women wanting to aid better conversations with healthcare professionals, Nurofen has  launched Pain Pass – a free downloadable PDF tool designed to help people track and articulate their pain and symptoms, aid more constructive conversations with their healthcare professional, and help tackle unconscious bias. 

“Our latest research shows that fewer women feel their pain has been dismissed – perhaps because awareness is driving better quality conversations,” said Dr Bill Laughey, senior medical scientist at Reckitt. 

“We’ve developed the Pain Pass in collaboration with leading pain specialists and women experiencing pain. It is designed to empower women to get the support and treatment they need.” 

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