Attitudes regarding tuberculosis in immigrants from the Philippines to the United States

Fam Med. Jul-Aug 1999;31(7):477-82.


Background and objectives: More than two thirds of the cases of tuberculosis (TB) in the United States occur in non-white minorities and immigrants. The Philippines is the Asian country of origin with the greatest numbers of TB cases among the foreign-born. This paper explores Filipino knowledge, attitudes, and practices concerning TB.

Methods: Four focus groups of Filipino immigrants were convened to discuss the participants' explanatory models regarding TB. The results of these groups were reviewed by a panel of Filipino health workers.

Results: The focus group participants expressed a belief in the extreme contagiousness of TB. This leads to social stigma and isolation. The desire to avoid such consequences lead some to deny their illness, not seek attention, or attempt to hide their illness. While all agree that biomedical treatment is necessary, many believe in the effectiveness of traditional and popular treatments.

Conclusions: If explanatory models of illness are elicited from individual patients, an understanding of the shared beliefs regarding tuberculosis in Filipinos may contribute to treatment of these patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Emigration and Immigration*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minority Groups / psychology*
  • Philippines / ethnology
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / ethnology*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / prevention & control
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / transmission
  • United States