Exploring Folk and Traditional Medicine Practices and Self-Care Among Mexican-Americans with Diabetes
1 online resource (184 pages) : PDF
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
The burden of diabetes mellitus (DM) is high among minority populations. In the United States, approximately 1 in 10 Hispanic individuals face this burden. A subgroup of these Hispanic individuals, Mexican-Americans, is disproportionately affected by DM compared to their White counterparts. Research highlights a disparity in outcomes among Mexican-Americans with DM compared to the general population. While researchers have examined both cultural and psychological characteristics of Mexican-Americans suffering from DM, there is a paucity of research in areas related to folk and traditional medicine practices and their relationship to self-care of DM. Additionally, White, English-speaking practitioners often fail to understand that self-care practices are associated with the cultural understanding of DM. Interestingly, susto (i.e., a state of anxiety or distress due to a traumatic event), a culturally-specific condition endemic primarily to Mexican-Americans, has been implicated as the primary cause of DM by many Mexican-Americans. This paper examined how folk and traditional medicine and the cultural understandings of DM through the lens of susto are related to self-care practices for Mexican-Americans suffering from DM. The results revealed that while participants storied their experience with DM in a manner that emphasized self-care through curative approaches used in biomedicine, other treatment modalities such as folk/traditional medicine and psychotherapy found partial support as therapeutic options to treating susto and DM. Furthermore, the historical definition of susto was not supported in this study, whereas the more current worldview of susto found moderate support. Results of this study also revealed unexpected findings, including how curanderos (i.e., folk/traditional healers) are "hidden in plain sight" and appear to be more accessible today than in the past. Yet, there is confusion and contradiction as to the nature, location, and utilization of their services. Consideration was given to issues of researcher bias as well as rigor. Implications for clinical practice, limitations of the study, and directions for future research are also discussed.
Davis, ChristineQuinlan, MargaretBrody, Charles
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 2015.
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