Knowledge and care of chronic illness in three ethnic minority groups

Fam Med. 1998 Mar;30(3):173-8.


Background and objectives: Despite advances in medical approaches to the management of chronic illnesses, relatively little is known about how older members of ethnic minority groups view their chronic illnesses or how they manage them in daily life.

Methods: We recruited 35 African-Americans, 61 Latinos, and 55 Filipino-Americans, all over age 50. Criteria for entry into the study was the presence of one or more chronic illnesses. Findings are based on structured and semi-structured questions in one in-depth interview. Qualitative data on transcribed interviews with 151 respondents was analyzed.

Results: Comparison of the three groups revealed social and cultural differences and similarities that affected the management of chronic illness. The extent to which respondents demonstrated an understanding of their illnesses as chronic varied considerably, with discernible differences among groups about knowledge of illness and self-care practices.

Conclusions: Our findings showed that although major chronic illnesses were, for the most part, the same for all three groups, each group differed in its response to and management of its illnesses. These findings have implications for the education of physicians in training.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / psychology
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asian Americans / psychology
  • Blacks
  • Chronic Disease / psychology*
  • Complementary Therapies / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Behavior / ethnology*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minority Groups / psychology*
  • Philippines / ethnology
  • Self Care / psychology
  • Sick Role
  • United States