Gender and ethnic stereotyping and narcotic analgesic administration

Deborah Dillon McDonald, University of Connecticut School of Nursing

Document Type Article


The purpose of this study was to investigate whether nurses provide different amounts of narcotic analgesics to male and female patients, and different amounts to white and ethnic minority patients. A retrospective survey was conducted with the medical records of 101 male and 79 female uncomplicated adult appendectomy patients, 40 of whom were ethnic minority members. Narcotic analgesic doses for the entire postoperative period were converted to equianalgesic doses comparable to intramuscular morphine. Male patients received significantly larger initial doses than female patients. There was no gender difference in the total dose received postoperatively. White patients received significantly more total postoperative narcotic analgesics than ethnic minority patients. The gender difference provides modest external validation for prior experimental results. The ethnic difference suggests that irrelevant cues may be used in nurses' medication decisions.