Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2023

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair

Mary Radeke

Second Committee Member

Ralf Greenwald

Third Committee Member

Melissa Henry


As many as 21.7% of females in the U.S. experience chronic pain, which lasts three months or longer. Chronic pain management often requires a multidisciplinary approach due to its involvement in multiple Central Nervous System (CNS) networks. Patients typically visit their Primary Care Provider (PCP) first to manage and treat their chronic pain symptoms. This presents a challenge for females of higher weight and/or non-white races. Research documents alarming rates of weight and racial bias, and discrimination in the healthcare system, especially for females. The presence of prejudice and discrimination in the healthcare domain is problematic due to the biopsychosocial nature of pain and the ability of perceived discrimination to contribute to pain. It was hypothesized that primary care providers with higher levels of weight bias would recommend more weight-related treatments and fewer treatments related directly to chronic pain.

Additionally, it was predicted that black females would receive more frequent psychological-type referrals. PCPs were the target participant population; however, due to a low response rate, students at Central Washington University (N = 82) were utilized. Participants were assigned to one of nine groups, manipulated by weight and race. A significant difference (p = .046) was observed in direct weight-related treatment recommendations between the normal weight condition and the overweight condition. Non-significant results with regard to racial bias, other partially supported hypotheses, study limitations, and future directions are discussed.

Available for download on Wednesday, June 28, 2028