Background: Racial/ethnic disparities exist in the prevalence and outcomes of diabetes and hypertension in the U.S. A better understanding of the health beliefs and experiences of non-Hispanic Blacks and Latinos with these diseases could help to improve their care outcomes.
Methods: We conducted eight focus groups stratified by participants' race/ethnicity, with 34 non-Hispanic Blacks and Latinos receiving care for diabetes and/or hypertension in one of 7 community health centers in Boston. Focus groups were designed to determine participants' levels of understanding about their chronic illness, assess their barriers to the management of their illness, and inquire about interventions they considered may help achieve better health outcomes.
Results: Among both groups of participants, nutrition (traditional diets), genetics and environmental stress (e.g. neighborhood crime and poor conditions) were described as primary contributors to diabetes and hypertension. Unhealthy diets were reported as being a major barrier to disease management. Participants also believed that they would benefit from attending groups on management and education for their conditions that include creative ways to adopt healthy foods that complement their ethnic diets, exercise opportunities, and advice on how to prevent disease manifestation among family members.
Conclusions: Interactive discussion groups focused on lifestyle modification and disease management should be created for patients to learn more about their diseases. Future research evaluating the effectiveness of interactive diabetes and hypertension groups that apply patient racial/ethnic traditions should be considered.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00379652.