Use of curanderismo in a public health care system

Arch Intern Med. 2001 May 28;161(10):1336-40. doi: 10.1001/archinte.161.10.1336.


Background: Curanderismo ("the healing") is a centuries-old synthesis of Mexican Indian culture and beliefs.

Objective: To evaluate the rate of use of curanderismo among Hispanic subjects seeking medical care at the Denver Health Medical Center, Denver, Colo.

Methods: We conducted a survey of 405 Hispanic subjects attending outpatient primary and urgent care clinics at Denver Health Medical Center, the public hospital system for Denver. The main outcome measure was independent predictors of use of curanderos.

Results: Of the 405 subjects, 118 (29.1%) (95% confidence interval, 20.9-37.3) had been to a curandero at some time in their lives. Of all the subjects, 91.3% knew what a curandero was. Univariate analyses demonstrated an association between those who had been to a curandero and level of income, level of education, and whether the subject was bilingual. The results of fitting a stepwise logistic regression model revealed an independent association with subjects who had been to a curandero and level of household income (>$20 000 vs <$10 000), with an odds ratio of 2.19 (95% confidence interval, 1.20-4.01) (P =.01), and level of education (post--high school vs elementary school), with an odds ratio of 3.16 (95% confidence interval, 1.45-6.86) (P =.004).

Conclusions: Many Hispanic patients who receive their health care at a public hospital system use the services of curanderos. This potentially has important implications for their health care.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care
  • Colorado
  • Complementary Therapies / methods*
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Hispanic Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitals, Public / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mental Healing
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Public Health / methods
  • Public Health / standards
  • Public Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity