Research paper|Articles in Press

Gender-based differences in assessment and management of acute abdominal pain in the emergency department: A retrospective audit

  • Megan Hayes
    Correspondence to: 8A Fuge St, Highett, VIC 3190, Australia.
    Cabrini Health, The Patricia Peck Education and Research Precinct, Australia

    Epworth HealthCare, Emergency Department, Richmond, Victoria, Australia
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  • Ana Hutchinson
    Deakin University, Institute of Health Transformation, Centre for Quality and Safety Research, Epworth HealthCare, Deakin University Partnership, Australia

    Deakin University, School of Nursing & Midwifery, Burwood, Victoria, Australia
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  • Debra Kerr
    Deakin University, School of Nursing & Midwifery, Burwood, Victoria, Australia

    Deakin University, Institute of Health Transformation, Centre for Quality and Safety Research, Australia
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Published:March 11, 2023DOI:



      Previous research has identified gender-based differences in acute pain management in the emergency department [ED]. The aim of this study was to compare pharmacological management of acute abdominal pain in the ED by gender.


      A retrospective chart audit was conducted at one private metropolitan ED including adult patients (18–80 years) who presented with acute abdominal pain in 2019. Exclusion criteria included: pregnancy, repeat presentation within the study period, pain-free at initial medical review or documented refusal of analgesia, and oligo-analgesia. Comparisons by gender included: (1) analgesia type and (2) time to analgesia. Bivariate analysis was undertaken using SPSS.


      There were 192 participants: 61 (31.6 %) men and 131 (67.9 %) women. Men were more likely to get combined opioid and non-opioid medication as first line analgesia (men: 26.2 % n = 16; women: 14.5 % n = 19, p = .049). Median time from ED presentation to analgesia was 80 min for men (IQR: 60) versus 94 min for women (IQR: 58), (p = .119). Women (25.2 % n = 33) were more likely to receive their first analgesic after 90 min from ED presentation compared to men versus men (11.5 %, n = 7 p = .029). In addition, women waited longer before receiving second analgesia (women: 94, men: 30 min, p = .032).


      Findings confirm there are differences in pharmacological management of acute abdominal pain in the ED. Larger studies are required to further explore differences observed in this study.


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