Knowledge, attitudes, and behavior relating to diabetes and its main risk factors among urban residents in Cameroon: a qualitative survey

Ethn Dis. 2006 Spring;16(2):503-9.


Diabetes, obesity, and physical inactivity are common in urban areas in sub-Saharan Africa. This paper reports an investigation of lay knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors relating to diabetes and its main risk factors of urban Cameroonians. We carried out a qualitative study in four urban health districts, one from each of the main ecological areas of Cameroon. Participants were purposively selected to include a range of community key participants and articulate community members. Data were collected through in-depth interviews by using a pre-tested, semi-structured interview guide. Sixty-two interviews were conducted across the four sites. Awareness of diabetes and knowledge of its causes, clinical course, and complications were limited. Many participants believed diabetes was caused by excessive sugar consumption rather than excessive energy intake, obesity, or physical inactivity. Obesity, particularly in men, was largely perceived positively as a sign of "good living." Many participants underestimated the degree to which they were overweight. Physical activity was mostly viewed positively, although negative views were common about simple methods of increasing physical activity, such as walking. Several constraints to the adoption of healthy behaviors were identified. For diet, these included lack of knowledge of the composition of a healthy diet. Barriers to undertaking more physical activity included lack of facilities and inadequate time available. The results indicate the need for health education about diabetes and its main risk factors in these communities. Health education should be informed by lay perspectives to maximize the appropriateness of the messages and their effect on knowledge, attitudes, and behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cameroon
  • Diabetes Mellitus / ethnology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / etiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Health Behavior / ethnology*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Urban Population*