Latino Beliefs About Diabetes

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To describe Latino beliefs about diabetes and assess heterogeneity in beliefs across different groups.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS

This study comprised a survey of 161 representative Latino adults from four diverse communities: Hartford, Connecticut; Edinburg, Texas; Guadalajara, Mexico; and rural Guatemala. A 130-item questionnaire covered causes, symptoms, and treatments for diabetes. Information on demographics and acquaintanceship with someone with diabetes was also collected. The cultural consensus model was used to analyze the variation in responses to determine whether the degree of consistency within and between samples was sufficient to warrant aggregation and description as a single set of beliefs.

RESULTS

Homogeneous beliefs were present within each of the four samples. Although variability in responses increased significantly from Connecticut to Guatemala (P < 0.00005), there was significant agreement between samples on the answers (P < 0.0005). Answers tended to be concordant with the biomedical description of diabetes. Greater acculturation, higher educational attainment, and higher diabetes prevalence were associated with greater cultural knowledge about diabetes. In Connecticut, greater knowledge correlated with longer mainland U.S. residency (P < 0.05). In Mexico, those with average educational attainment knew more (P < 0.05). Finally, average knowledge levels were higher in communities with greater diabetes prevalence.

CONCLUSIONS

The cultural consensus model facilitated assessment of cultural beliefs regarding diabetes and diabetes management. Overall, Latino cultural beliefs about diabetes were concordant with the biomedical model. Variation in responses tended to characterize less knowledge or experience with diabetes and not different beliefs. Diabetes Care 22:722-728, 1999

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