Date of Award

8-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Applied Sociology

Advisor

Luo, Ye

Committee Member

Granberg , Ellen

Committee Member

Williams , Joel

Abstract

This thesis examines the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and perceived discrimination, using the frequency of routine medical care as a proxy for discrimination using waves I (1995) and II (2005) of the Midlife in the U.S (MIDUS) survey. This thesis examines stigma and discrimination of the obese in medical care using the theoretical framework of Felt Stigma and Identity Theory. This thesis addresses 5 research questions: (1) What effect does body mass index have on health usage patterns? (2) What effect does gender have on the relationship between body mass index and health usage patterns? (3) What effect does age have on the relationship between body mass and health usage patterns? (4) What effect does socioeconomic status (SES) have on the relationship between body mass and health usage patterns? (5) How does the relationship between body mass and health usage differ over time? The current study finds that the frequency of medical use varies significantly with the category of obesity examined. There is partial support that obese respondents may engage in medical avoidance due to felt stigma in medical practice. Interactions between BMI and gender and BMI and age are strongest. Additionally, this study finds that the relationship between BMI and the frequency of medical use has changed significantly between 1995 and 2005. Relevant discussion regarding implications of findings, this study's limitations, and possible directions for future research is given.

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Sociology Commons

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