Women report more chronic pain than men and are more likely to be prescribed, and rely on prescribed opioids, to help address chronic pain. For several decades, women’s health advocates have voiced concerns with prescribing opioids to women with chronic pain. However, educational materials intended to support change or improve patterns of care and prescribing have lacked integration of women’s experience and perspectives.

The goal of the Women’s Chronic Pain and Prescription Opioid Project was to create sex, gender, equity, and trauma informed resources for providers that reflect women’s lived and living experiences with chronic pain and prescription opioids. We interviewed and consulted with women who have used prescription opioids for chronic pain, in order to embed women’s experiences, opinions and recommendations into resource development for health care providers and educators, researchers, health system planners, and other women.

In addition, this project augmented the recently released Canadian Pain Task Force Report and Action Plan for Pain in Canada, with sex- and gender-based analysis plus (SGBA+) and equity-related information, analysis, and direction. We engaged health care providers and health educators, health system planners, researchers, and women with lived and living experience, to highlight what is known and what could be done in Canada, to reach the Action Plan goals.


Information for Women and Service Providers:


  • Women and Chronic Pain Conditions (English and French): This infographic highlights nine chronic pain conditions that disproportionately impact women.
  • Women, Chronic Pain, and Prescription Opioids: 8 Key Facts and Ideas for Action (English and French): This infographic for service providers outlines four facts about women’s chronic pain and four ideas to address women’s needs. 
  • 8 Most Evidenced Treatments for Women’s Chronic Pain (English and French): This infographic explores the eight most frequently cited pain management strategies for women’s chronic pain and how they can be used for pain and symptom management.

Research and Policy:

  • Including Sex, Gender, and Equity in the Action Plan for Pain in Canada: A policy report that examines the research on sex and gender factors affecting chronic pain and applies SGBA+ to the Action Plan for Pain in Canada.
  • Scoping Review Executive Summary – View English or French: This document summarizes the main findings from a scoping review on women’s experiences with prescription opioid use for chronic pain.
  • Research Methodology and Full References: This resource provides a brief overview of the methodology used for the scoping review and subsequent literature reviews that informed all the products developed in this project. It includes a comprehensive list of references.

Further Learning:

CEWH acknowledges the financial support of Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program.