Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp 1413–1422 | Cite as

Diabetes Cultural Beliefs and Traditional Medicine Use Among Health Center Patients in Oaxaca, Mexico

  • Rebeca Espinoza Giacinto
  • Sheila F. Castañeda
  • Ramona L. Perez
  • Jesse N. Nodora
  • Patricia Gonzalez
  • Emma Julián Lopez
  • Gregory A. Talavera
Original Paper


Type II diabetes mellitus is currently the leading cause of death in Mexico. Oaxaca is one of the poorest states in Mexico with the largest concentration of indigenous people in the country. Despite the alarming increase of diabetes rates in this region, little is known about the indigenous populations’ cultural understandings and related practices for this chronic disease. This study examined diabetes cultural beliefs and traditional medicine use among a sample of 158 adults with and without diabetes in Oaxaca, Mexico. Individuals with and without diabetes did not differ in their traditional culture beliefs regarding diabetes in this study. Younger age (OR = 1.04) and stronger beliefs in punitive and mystical retribution (OR = 5.42) regarding diabetes causality increased the likelihood of using traditional medicine (p < .05). Findings may aid in the development of culturally tailored programs to address diabetes prevention and management efforts in the region.


Diabetes Cultural beliefs Traditional medicine Oaxaca Mexico 



The study was supported by Grant Number P20 MD002293-01, from the San Diego EXPORT Center, National Center of Minority Health and Health Disparities, National Institutes of Health and the Center for Latin American Studies at San Diego State University. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. No financial conflict of interest was reported by the authors of this paper. Special thanks to staff and participants from Health Centers #1 and #2 in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Authors contribution

Rebeca Espinoza Giacinto, MA/MPH, PhD Candidate: Contributed critically to development of the data survey tool, data collection and the initial and subsequent versions of the manuscript overall. Sheila Castañeda, PhD: Provided critical guidance to the development of the survey tool, initial and subsequent manuscript drafts including guidance in the interpretation of findings, summary of information and overall development and editing. Ramona L. Perez, PhD: Provided critical guidance to the description, interpretation of findings, summary of information and overall development and editing. Jesse N. Nodora, DrPH: Provided critical editing of the manuscript, including the manuscript methods and findings and provided critical editing of the manuscript draft. Patricia Gonzalez, PhD: Contributed critically to the methods and summary of findings in the initial manuscript draft. Emma Julian Lopez, MD: Provided critical guidance to the development of the survey tool, study design and coordination. Gregory A. Talavera, MD, PhD: Provided critical guidance with the study design, development of the data survey tool, data collection, interpretation of findings, summary of information and overall development and editing.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors state no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebeca Espinoza Giacinto
    • 1
  • Sheila F. Castañeda
    • 1
  • Ramona L. Perez
    • 2
  • Jesse N. Nodora
    • 3
  • Patricia Gonzalez
    • 1
  • Emma Julián Lopez
    • 4
  • Gregory A. Talavera
    • 1
  1. 1.South Bay Latino Research Center, Graduate School of Public HealthSan Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Anthropology, Center for Latin American StudiesSan Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA
  3. 3.Department of Family Medicine and Public HealthMoores UC San Diego Cancer CenterLa JollaUSA
  4. 4.Centro de Salud Urbano #1OaxacaMéxico

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