Religious and cultural distance in beliefs about health and illness in women with diabetes mellitus of different origin living in Sweden

Int J Nurs Stud. 2003 Aug;40(6):627-43. doi: 10.1016/s0020-7489(03)00020-8.


The study explored beliefs about health and illness in females with diabetes mellitus (DM) from different religious backgrounds living in Sweden. Swedes showed an active self-care behaviour and a healthy and controlled life-style. Ex-Yugoslavian Muslims emphasised enjoyment of life and a passive self-care attitude, lesser inclination to self-monitoring of blood glucose and preventive foot care. Arabs emphasised adaptation to DM and a lot of 'musts' concerning diet, and had a lower threshold for seeking care. They also emphasised being a believing Muslim, and although explaining the cause of DM as 'the will of Allah or God', in contrast to ex-Yugoslavians, they actively searched for information about management of DM. Cultural and religious distance are essential for understanding self-care practice and care-seeking behaviour, and need to be considered in the planning of diabetes care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Culture*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy*
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Islam / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Religion
  • Self Care
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Transients and Migrants
  • Yugoslavia / ethnology