A woman who has been fighting gender bias in the treatment of pain for the past decade thinks things are improving but there is still a ways to go.
Cynthia Toussant, who founded For Grace, a Los Angeles based non-profit that focuses attention on women in pain, had an interview with the National Pain Report in advance of the organization’s annual Women in Pain Conference on Friday September 11.
Tousannt is also promoting a petition on change.org that urges the health care industry to stop pain care bias of women in pain. Here’s a link to the petition. 8,000 have signed the petition in the last decade.
In our interview, she outlined three things that she believes need to be done to change how women are diagnosed and then treated for pain.
- There needs to be a medical school curriculum that mandates students learn that chronic pain can become a disease and that there are many differences between men and women when it comes to pain.
“Women still often are not believed and can be considered “hormonal or over-reactive,” she said.
- Practicing doctors need to become aware of their often unconscious biases and prejudices toward women in pain when it comes to their patient’s self reports.
“The good news is that when doctors discover their own biases, they usually want to change them,” she said.
- Women in pain need to empower themselves as better health care consumers and self-advocates.
“Women who are educated in pain have better quality of life outcomes,” she said.
Tousannt’s For Grace organization is concentrating its annual meeting on resilience, entitled Transform Pain Into Strength The Power of the Comeback. The event will be live streamed on the internet. It’s free.
How far have women in pain come?
“Today when a woman in pain angrily shares with me that her doctors took three-to-six months to diagnose her pain, I smile inside,” she said. “I didn’t get treatment for the first 15 years of my illness.”
“The progress we’ve made is often the difference between a life ravaged by or saved from chronic pain.”
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