Work Type



Fall 2023

Faculty Advisor

Karin Steere DPT, PhD




Background: The complexity of the human experience of pain involves myriad biological, psychological, and social factors, each contributing uniquely to the overall experience. Recent literature illustrates the impact of social determinants on health outcomes, including an association between chronic pain and lived-discrimination. Heart rate variability (HRV) is used as a measure of systemic health, with diminished HRV often accompanying chronic pain.

Purpose: The primary aim of this study is to provide a pilot feasibility protocol to investigate the relationship between lived discrimination and HRV across the spectrum of pain duration.

Methods: HRV data was collected from 39 participants while seated and taking an iPad survey that encompassed sociodemographic information, pain experience, and the Everyday Discrimination Scale (EDS). HRV data analysis was performed on 37 participants. Pearson’s correlation was used to compare total EDS score to HRV.

Results: Due to the positive skew of EDS and HRV scores, the natural logs of EDS, high-frequency power (HFP), and low-frequency power (LFP) were utilized. Total log EDS (lnEDS) was not correlated with either lnHFP (r = -.08, p = .637) or lnLFP (r = .08, p = .658).

Conclusions: This protocol demonstrates a feasible structure for further exploration of the relationship between lived discrimination and HRV. While nonsignificant in this small sample, the relationship between discrimination and HFP is opposite of LFP, suggesting different relationships between these variables. Future research should investigate the differences in these relationships in a larger sample between groups of those experiencing no pain, acute pain, and chronic pain.


University of Puget Sound