Curanderismo: demystifying the health beliefs and practices of elderly Mexican Americans

Health Soc Work. 1995 Nov;20(4):247-53. doi: 10.1093/hsw/20.4.247.


In Mexican American communities traditional folk healing historically has played an important role in meeting critical health care needs of residents. Despite this fact, researchers who study health care rarely consider the role of folk healing among elderly Mexican Americans, and thus little knowledge is available about its use by this group. In this article, 25 Mexican American elderly people participated in extensive ethnographic interviews about folk healing (curanderismo) and its influence on health care behaviors. Although participants relied on modern medicine to treat serious injuries and major health problems, they still considered traditional folk healing a viable alternative in situations in which modern health care was unsatisfactory or ineffective. Therefore, social workers need to become more knowledgeable about and sensitive to folk beliefs and practices and to develop culturally appropriate health care interventions.

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation
  • Aged
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Female
  • Health Services for the Aged*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medicine, Traditional*
  • Mental Healing
  • Mexican Americans*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Phytotherapy
  • Southwestern United States