Date of Completion

Spring 5-1-2023

Thesis Advisor(s)

Caitlin Caspi; Cheryl Ordway Eckert

Honors Major

Allied Health Sciences


Public Health | Social and Behavioral Sciences


There is longstanding evidence of racial, sex-based, weight-based, and socioeconomic status (SES) disparities in the quality of healthcare. These disparities can result from provider bias and discrimination in the healthcare system and can contribute to disparities in health outcomes. The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic may have exacerbated differential treatment in healthcare due to the strain it placed on the healthcare system. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on U.S. healthcare experiences among low SES non-Hispanic Black and non-Hispanic White patients. This secondary analysis utilized survey measures from 225 low-wage workers, ages 20-72, in two U.S. cities (Minnesota, MN and Raleigh, NC) in the 2019 and 2021 waves of the WAGE$ study. Independent variables included wave (pre-pandemic in 2019 or during the pandemic in 2021) and participant characteristics (non-Hispanic Black/non-Hispanic White, male/female, and with obesity/without obesity). The dependent variable “healthcare experience score” was based on the sum of 3 survey questions and was used as an indirect indicator of perceived discrimination. The mean healthcare experience scores were calculated for each participant in each year. The study used Mixed Effect ANOVA to compare differences across timepoints and between participant groups. A p-value of less than 0.05 was used to determine statistical significance. Healthcare experience scores were high for all groups in both time periods and there were no statistically significant differences between groups or timepoints. Overall, in this sample of low-wage participants, the COVID-19 pandemic did not result in worsening healthcare experience scores nor did effects differ by race, sex, or weight status.