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What is the news? A difference between men and women

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What is the news? A difference between men and women
Metka Adamič, Miloš D Pavlović
Dermatology Online Journal 14 (6): 23

Dermatologic Center Parmova, Ljubljana, Slovenia.


It is a common observation that women and men react differently to stress and illness. We questioned 63 consecutive patients with pityriasis rosea and found that the women were overwhelmingly more likely than men to ask to hear unpleasant information before positive information.


Kajantie and Phillips reported that the physiological response to acute psychosocial stress is highly related to gender and hormonal status [1]. The very perception and description of pain and related complaints is profoundly different in men and women [2, 3]. In our busy dermatology practice we noticed that during conversation with patients, women more often ask immediately about all the negative aspects of their conditions. Therefore, we performed a small study to record the reactions of patients diagnosed with pityriasis rosea.


A series of 63 consecutive patients (aged 18-41 years; 33 females, 30 males) with a clinical diagnosis of pityriasis rosea were asked the following question: "You have a relatively common and benign skin rash. Yet, the rash has some more and some less favorable features. Which would you like to discuss first?"


The results were striking. All but 1 woman (1 of 33; 3%) promptly asked to first hear the less favorable information about the rash, whereas all but 2 men (2 of 30; 6%) wished to be first told the better side of the story. Of course, the more favorable information was that the disorder is innocuous and self-healing; the less appealing news was that it might take up to 8 to 12 weeks to regress completely.

The difference in reaction was so remarkable that it might be hypothesized that women are more inclined to prepare themselves to cope with potential health-related problems than men.


1. Kajantie E, Phillips DI. The effects of sex and hormonal status on the physiological response to acute psychosocial stress. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2006 Feb;31(2):151-78. PubMed

2. Keogh E, Eccleston C. Sex differences in adolescent chronic pain and pain-related coping. Pain. 2006 Aug;123(3):275-84. PubMed

3. Ekman I, Boman K, Olofsson M, Aires N, Swedberg K. Gender makes a difference in the description of dyspnoea in patients with chronic heart failure. Eur J Cardiovasc Nurs. 2005 Jun;4(2):117-21. PubMed

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