A Review of the Literature on Stoic Attitudes toward Pain: Age, Gender and Cultural Differences
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This review of research literature on stoic attitudes toward pain found that stoicism is defined as the determination to endure through pain or other hardship. This endurance is usually a silent endurance, and may include a lack of complaint or a minimization of the pain being experienced. Stoicism presents the picture that the individual remains competent and independent, although it can act as a barrier to effective pain management. Especially in the case of mild pain, stoicism increases with age, with older adults being less likely than younger adults to report their pain symptoms. A cohort effect may exist to partially explain the stoicism present in older adults. It is possible that older adults were raised in a society that stressed the importance of stoicism, leaving them less likely to complain about minor aches and pains. While it has been suggested that certain cultures, such as Asians and Scandinavians, show more stoicism toward pain, these beliefs have yet to be directly compared across cultures. However, research on pain expression shows that different cultures hold varied related attitudes, such as appropriateness of overt pain expression and inferred pain in others. Gender differences have also been found, with females more accepting of overt pain expression, and self-reporting greater pain than males, suggesting that females may experience greater pain or are more willing to articulate their pain. Indeed, stoicism toward pain differs across several dimensions and further research in this area will likely shed greater light on the experience and assessment of pain. This poster presents a review of research literature on the construct of stoicism in older adults and pain management. Differences in age, gender and culture are also examined.