Hispanic adults' beliefs about type 2 diabetes: clinical implications

J Am Acad Nurse Pract. 2007 Oct;19(10):536-45. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-7599.2007.00255.x.


Purpose: This integrative literature review focused on Hispanic adults' beliefs about type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a progressive, chronic illness with the potential for debilitating complications that disproportionately affect Hispanic adults. By understanding Hispanic adults' beliefs about type 2 diabetes, health professionals will be able to offer more culturally competent health care.

Data sources: Published research reports on Hispanic adults' beliefs about type 2 diabetes were obtained using multiple computerized databases and by searching reference lists of published reports. A total of 15 research reports comprised this review.

Conclusion: While there was some variance among Hispanic subgroups, in general, Hispanic adults' understanding of the etiology of diabetes was an integration of biomedical causes such as heredity and traditional or folk beliefs such as susto, which is the concept of strong emotions. Hispanic adults believed that diabetes is a serious illness and that they could identify many of the symptoms of diabetes. They identified both biomedical and herbal treatments for diabetes. Negative attitudes toward insulin were common. Religious beliefs also factored into Hispanic adult's explanatory models of type 2 diabetes.

Implications for practice: Hispanic adults have a fairly cohesive explanatory model of diabetes. Healthcare professionals can use this information as a starting point to discuss each individual patient's explanatory model of illness, clarify misconceptions, and develop an individualized plan of care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health / ethnology*
  • Causality
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / ethnology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / etiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / therapy
  • Family / ethnology
  • Female
  • Folklore
  • Health Behavior / ethnology
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Hispanic Americans / education
  • Hispanic Americans / ethnology*
  • Humans
  • Life Style / ethnology
  • Male
  • Medicine, Traditional
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Phytotherapy
  • Religion and Psychology
  • Self Care / methods
  • Self Care / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires