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J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2008 Nov;19(4):1029-43. doi: 10.1353/hpu.0.0083.

Cultural perceptions of health and diabetes among Native American men.

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Medical Dietetics Division, College of Medicine, The Ohio State University, 453 W. 10th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210, USa.


Diabetes continues to affect minority populations disproportionately, especially Native Americans. Identifying culturally-specific definitions of health and diabetes is critically important for relevant and effective diabetes prevention programs. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 20 Native American men from two tribal clinics. Verbatim transcripts were analyzed by means of grounded theory, to identify culturally-specific definitions of health and diabetes. The men defined health in terms of physical capabilities and presence of disease. Conversely, the men viewed diabetes as an inexorable downward course that slowly manifests itself through various complications and ultimately results in death. Men feared for their own diagnoses as well as the diagnosis of family or community members whom they considered to be at-risk. Additional information about the perceptions of health and diabetes in racial and ethnic minority populations will significantly contribute to the development of effective diabetes prevention programs.

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