Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Eating disorders-Diagnosis, Eating disorders-Etiology, Cross-cultural counseling, Discrimination in mental health services, Women, White-Mental health, African American women-Mental health, Asian American women-Mental health, Clinician, Women of color, Asian, African-American, Women, Race, Diagnosis


The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to further explore the effect of race on clinicians' recognition of eating disorder symptomatology in Asian, African-American, and White women. This study replicated the work of Gordon, Brattole, Wingate, and Joiner (2006) in an attempt to re-affirm or challenge previous research findings found by Gordon et al., 2006, which suggest that clinicians identify eating disorder symptoms in White women more frequently than in African American women. The present study expanded Gordon et al.'s (2006) work by assessing clinicians' identification of eating disorder symptoms in Asian women and by examining themes in the qualitative portion of the narrative. The study explored the following question: Does a client's race impact clinicians' identification of eating disorder symptoms? It was hypothesized that clinicians are less likely to identify eating disorder symptoms in Asian and African American women than in White women and that clinicians would rate the severity of eating disorder symptoms similarly across racial groups. Thirty-four clinicians trained in the field of Social Work participated in this study. Data was collected using the Drive for Thinness subscale of the Eating Disorder Inventory 3-RF (Garner, 2005) and the narrative portion of a case vignette describing the symptoms of Mary, a 16 year old Asian, African American, or White female (Gordon et al., 2006). Quantitative findings from the present study challenge the findings of Gordon et al. (2006) by suggesting that race does not significantly impact clinicians' identification of eating disorder symptomatology. Analyses of qualitative data suggest that race impacts the language used by clinicians to describe eating disorder symptomatology and is often reflective of racial stereotypes. An examination of the findings as they compare to previous literature and a discussion of language use in diagnoses were explored. Implications for social work practice were discussed.




iv, 74 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2009. Includes bibliographical references (p. 57-60)