The Impact of Arab American Culture on Diabetes Self-management Education

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The purpose of this study was to better understand barriers and facilitators of diabetes self-management education (DSME) among Arab American patients with diabetes. Little is known about the impact of Arab culture on DSME.


Arab American adults (N = 23) with medically managed diabetes participated in 1 of 3 focus groups. An Arabicspeaking, trained moderator conducted video-recorded sessions. Verbatim Arabic transcripts were translated into English. Transcripts underwent a qualitative content analysis approach.


Arab American cultural traditions such as food sharing, religious beliefs, and gender roles both facilitated and at times impeded DSME. Patients also held conflicting views about their interactions with their providers; some participants praised the authoritative patient-physician relationship style while others perceived the gaps in communication to be a product of Arab culture. Participants expressed that lack of available educational and supportive resources are key barriers to DSME.


Arab American culture affects DSM activities, and culturally sensitive educational resources are lacking. Development of DSME programs tailored to address relevant aspects of Arab culture might improve DSME outcomes in Arab American population.

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