• gender;
  • pain assessment;
  • pain;
  • perception;
  • prevalence

• The aim of this paper is to describe the prevalence and perceptions of pain and pain management amongst hospital in-patients.

• A cross-sectional descriptive survey of 205 patients was conducted.

• Presence and severity of pain was assessed using verbal descriptor and visual analogue scales, and perceptions of pain were assessed using multi-item scales.

• Although the severity of pain reported was consistent across age groups and clinical areas, women in the study sample were significantly more likely to report high levels of pain than men.

• Differences in how men and women communicate their pain were observed, with women indicating that they were less willing to ask for help with their pain.

• Results suggest that pain continues to be an important problem for a large number of men and women in hospital, and that the experience of pain impacts negatively upon their well-being.

• Gender differences in the experience of and response to pain remain important considerations for clinical nurses who have major responsibilities for the management of pain in hospitalized patients.