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Title: The effects of gender and coping on the perception of pain
Author: Ellery, Deborah Ann.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3444 3430
Awarding Body: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Current Institution: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2004
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Human pain perception is now known to be mediated by the complex and dynamic interaction of biological and psychosocial systems. Research with both clinical and nonclinical populations has identified an array of factors which can influence pain, amongst which gender has become the focus of increased interest in recent years. However, although females generally seem to have lower experimental pain thresholds, report higher levels of pain and demonstrate lower pain tolerance than males, the pain research literature is characterised by conflicting findings regarding the direction, magnitude and robustness of such gender effects. Furthermore, gender differences may not occur equally with all types of noxious stimuli. Investigating the impact of gender on pain is greatly complicated by the fact that gender in itself comprises both biological and psychological components. Gender-differentiated pain responses are therefore likely to involve physiological mechanisms such as the effects of gonadal hormones, as well as psychosocial determinants such as emotional responses and ways of coping. In this thesis, a series of controlled experiments was conducted to investigate the effects of gender and cognitive coping on cold pressor pain perception in healthy, pain-free individuals. The cold pressor paradigm was selected because relatively few previous studies have directly examined gender differences in this type of experimentally-induced pain. In light of potential fluctuations in female pain sensitivity as a function of hormonal status, cold pressor responses and the effectiveness of cognitive coping were also investigated in different phases of the menstrual cycle. Gender differences in pain responses were evident here, but such differences occurred inconsistently across the series of experiments. Cognitive coping was found to have very limited impact overall, and no effects of menstrual phase were found on pain responses or on coping. These findings are discussed within a biopsychosocial framework of pain perception.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available