Purpose: The purpose of this critical review is to describe the available theoretical models for understanding the gender issues in prolonged work disability related to persistent musculoskeletal (MSK) pain.
Method: A critical literature review was conducted in medicine, health sciences, and social sciences databases (MEDLINE, CINHAL, PsychINFO and SOCINDEX) using specific keywords. After screening titles and abstracts, followed by methodological quality assessment, a total of 55 references were retained for content analysis.
Results: Gender issues in disability related to persistent MSK pain show that men and women may experience pain and rehabilitation process in different ways. Three main themes were exftracted and further described: (1) the experience of distrust; (2) the self-identity process; and (3) the domestic strain. Each of these themes has a specific and potentially different impact on men and women, and we report that experiential differences may strongly impact the rehabilitation process and outcomes such as return to work.
Conclusions: This critical review provides insight into gender issues in the process of rehabilitation and outcomes such as return to work. We suggest that work and family considerations are the two most important issues in the rehabilitation process and that differences between men and women are likely to occur.