A Taiwanese study focused on the relationship between gender and analgesic adherence in cancer patients and shows some surprising results.
Numerous risk factors and etiologies for patients’ non-adherence to medication regimens have been identified in general populations and those with cancer.1-4 They include poor memory, misperceptions, cost concerns, polypharmacy, advanced age, family influence, and toxicity avoidance. Rarely, however, has gender been cited as a risk factor for non-adherence to medication regimens among patients with cancer.
A recent study from Taiwan focused on the relationship between sex and analgesic adherence in nearly 400 patients in an oncology out-patient department, and showed some surprising results.5 In the Taiwanese study, 3 domains were addressed:
Overall, women reported more hesitancy to use analgesics, lower adherence to the recommended plan of care, inadequate pain control, and ultimately experiencing more pain. The researchers concluded that women with cancer should be considered a high-risk group for achieving optimum pain control; however, reasons for this finding were not proposed.
Results of this research prompt the need for further exploration of the relationship between gender and adherence within cancer care. Only 5 studies have previously addressed this phenomenon.6-10 A multifactorial approach is required as this entity is complex and influenced by personal, social, financial, psychological, and cultural variables.
Oncology nurses at the bedside are key to the exploration of this phenomenon due to their central and ongoing relationships with patients. In the meantime, nurses can undertake their own field studies. Do you observe this phenomenon in your own practice?