Diabetes meanings among those without diabetes: explanatory models of immigrant Latinos in rural North Carolina

Soc Sci Med. 2004 Dec;59(11):2183-93. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2004.03.024.


The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is increasing in the United States, particularly among minority individuals. Primary prevention programs for diabetes must be designed to address the beliefs of the populations they target. Little research has investigated the beliefs of those who do not have diabetes. This analysis uses in-depth interviews collected from Latino immigrants, not diagnosed with diabetes, living in a rural US community. Structured by the explanatory models [EM] of Illness framework, this analysis delineates the EMs of diabetes in this community. A significant number of the participants had little knowledge and few beliefs about diabetes. The EMs of those with knowledge of diabetes were varied, but several beliefs were widely held: (a) diabetes is a serious disease that is based on heredity or is inherent in all persons, (b) diabetes can result from several factors, including strong emotions and lifestyle characteristics (an unhealthy diet, not taking care of oneself), (c) beliefs about strong emotion and the importance of blood are related to diabetes causes, symptoms and treatment, and (d) a major and undesirable outcome of diabetes is weight loss. These results provide information for the design of health programs for the prevention of type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health / ethnology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / prevention & control
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Services Research
  • Hispanic or Latino*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • North Carolina
  • Rural Population