This study explores the potential utility of a culturally tailored diabetes management intervention approach by testing associations between acculturation and diabetes-related beliefs among Mexican American adults with type 2 diabetes.
Data from 288 Mexican American adults with type 2 diabetes were obtained via a bilingual, telephone-administered survey. Participants were drawn from a stratified, random sample designed to obtain maximum variability in acculturation. The survey assessed diabetes-related beliefs, intervention preferences, and three acculturation constructs from the Hazuda acculturation and assimilation scales: Spanish use, value for preserving Mexican culture, and interaction with Mexican Americans.
Only one outcome, preference for a program for Mexican Americans, was associated with all three acculturation variables. Spanish use was positively associated with belief in susto as a cause of diabetes, preference for expert-driven health guidance, and involvement of others in taking care of diabetes. Value for preserving Mexican culture was related to a more holistic view of health, as evidenced by an increased likelihood of consulting a curandero, use of prayer, and interest in a diabetes program with religious content. Value for cultural preservation was also related to higher suspicion of free diabetes programs. Interaction with Mexican Americans was associated with a belief that insulin causes blindness.
Findings from this study suggest distinct relationships between acculturation constructs and diabetes-related beliefs and preferences, this arguing against use of a single acculturation construct to determine diabetes intervention design. Cultural tailoring may enhance the cultural appropriateness and ultimate effectiveness of diabetes interventions for Mexican American adults.