Date of Award

Spring 1987

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Taft, Thomas B.

Second Advisor

Ivanoff, John

Third Advisor

Fox, Robert


The purpose of the present study was to determine if potential health-care provider opinions about patients coping with pain can be influenced by duration of patient pain and sex of the patient. This study also sought to determine if potential health care provider personal strain is related to opinions about patient's coping with pain. Participants were one hundred and twenty males enrolled in residency programs at a midwestern medical college. Each participant received a patient description that manipulated sex of the patient and pain duration, yielding four experimental groups: male chronic, female chronic, male acute and female acute. The patient description was contained in one section of a survey that asked participants to rate patient coping strategies, patient coping success and willingness to treat the described patient. The second section of the survey asked for participant data and included the Osipow and Spokane (1983) Personal Strain Questionnaire (Form E-2). The coping strategies, success and willingness rating variables were analyzed utilizing a multivariate profile analysis that considered duration of patient pain and sex of patient factors. Post hoc comparison of the rating variable means was conducted using Duncan's multiple range test. Coping strategies were shown to differ as a function of both duration of patient pain and sex of the patient. Differences in duration of patient pain were shown to influence ratings of success in coping, with chronic patients rated more negatively than acute patients. Patient sex was not shown to influence ratings of the separate success variable. Neither duration nor sex of patient were shown to influence provider willingness to treat. Coping strategies underwent principal components analysis. A canonical correlation was conducted using component coping strategy scores and success and willingness ratings along with the vocational, psychological, interpersonal, and physical strain scores. The canonical correlation analysis revealed no significant findings. The results of the study suggest that brief patient descriptions can elicit potential provider opinions about patients coping with pain and that these opinions can be influenced by the sex of the patient and the duration of pain experienced.



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