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Exploring the association of gender role expectations of pain and measures of pain sensitization in people with knee osteoarthritis: A cross-sectional study.

OBJECTIVES: First, we explored the association between Gender Role Expectations of Pain (GREP), and psychophysical measures of sensitization in people with knee osteoarthritis (OA). Second, we explored whether the association differed by level of GREP items (high vs low scores).

DESIGN: We conducted secondary analyses of a cohort study. Those who were (i) age of ≥40, English or French speaking, ii) diagnosed with knee OA using American College of Rheumatology criteria and iii) consulting with an orthopedic surgeon were included. GREP items pertaining to pain sensitivity and pain endurance of the typical man or woman were rated by males and females respectively. Psychophysical tests consisted of pressure pain thresholds (PPTs), Temporal Summation (TS), and Conditioned Pain Modulation (CPM). Multiple linear regression models for males and females were run with GREP scores (independent variables) and psychophysical tests (dependent variables). Next models stratified on the median split of GREP scores were run. Models were adjusted for age, BMI, pain catastrophizing, anxio-depressive symptoms, and radiographic severity.

RESULTS: 280 participants (57% females; age (SD): 63.9 (9.6) and BMI (SD): 31.3 (8.40)) were included. GREP pain sensitivity scores in males were associated with CPM values (β: 95% CI: 0.09 (0.01 to 0.17)). Males with low GREP pain sensitivity or pain endurance had very small to small positive associations with PPT and CPM values.

CONCLUSION: This first exploration of gendered pain sensitivity and pain endurance by males and females has small and clinically unimportant associations with measures of pain sensitization requiring further validation.

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