Sociocultural factors and perceptions associated with type 2 diabetes among sub-Saharan African migrants in Melbourne, Victoria

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To explore how non-diabetic sub-Saharan African migrants residing in Melbourne, construct and interpret type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and its risk factors and to provide an evidence-based theoretical framework to inform community-based prevention programs.


Seven focus group discussions (two with women only, two with men only and three of mixed gender) were carried out among Ghanaian, Zimbabwean, Sudanese and Burundian migrants living in Melbourne (n = 61; age range: 18 to 61 years).


Three distinct themes emerged: not paying much attention to the threat of T2DM and othering; T2DM being outside the individuals' control; and entrapment within rich industrialised culture and lifestyle. Participants perceived T2DM to be a disease of the wealthy caused by intake of too much sugar and sedentary behaviour, which were particularly compounded by lifestyle-related changes upon migration to an industrialised country. However, they also perceived T2DM to be associated with bad luck.


Culturally competent prevention and education programs are needed to increase health literacy and dispel religious and cultural myths about T2DM among sub-Saharan African migrants.

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