Date of Award

Fall 9-2021

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Elena Stepanova

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Tammy Greer

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Elizabeth Tinnon

Committee Member 3 School

Professional Nursing Practice

Committee Member 4

Michong Rayborn

Committee Member 4 School

Leadership and Advanced Nursing Practice


The novel coronavirus has impacted Black Americans who have had higher rates of infection, hospitalization and death compared to White Americans. Although higher rates of obesity and other chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure have been implicated and, likely, play a substantial role in the disparity, racial biases among health care providers that affect the provision of care have yet to be examined. There is some evidence that racial bias among healthcare providers affects pain outcomes among Black American women with healthcare providers prescribing Black women pain medication less often than to White women (Badreldin, et. al., 2019; Bateman & Carvalho, 2019). Racial biases that result in disparities regarding testing, treatment and management of COVID-19 were addressed in this study. Participants were undergraduate and graduate nursing students from universities in the American South. They were shown a picture of a Black or White woman, and a vignette describing the patient’s pain (Study 1) or COVID-19 symptoms (Study 2). Discrepancies in nursing students’ pain ratings (Study 1), triage timing (Studies 1 and 2), COVID-19 test recommendations and treatment recommendations (Study 2) for Black and White women were assessed. No discrepancies were found in nursing students’ pain ratings, triage timing, COVID-19 testing recommendations or treatment recommendations for Black and White women. Interestingly, Black participants (vs. White participants) rated patients’ pain as more severe regardless of patients’ race. Findings indicate that nursing students at southern universities do not hold racial biases as manifested by pain assessment and COVID-19 symptom treatment.