Diabetes self-care among a multiethnic sample of older adults

Nancy E. Schoenberg, Lavona S. Traywick, Joy Jacobs-Lawson, Cary S. Kart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Type 2 diabetes constitutes a leading and increasing cause of morbidity and mortality among older adults, particularly African Americans, Native Americans, Mexican Americans, and rural dwellers. To understand diabetes self-care, an essential determinant of diabetic and overall health outcomes, 80 middle aged and older adults from these four disproportionately affected racial/ethnic/residential groups engaged in in-depth interviews, focusing on approaches to and explanations for diabetes self-care. Certain self-care activities (medication-taking, diet, foot care) were performed regularly while others (blood glucose monitoring, exercise) were practiced less frequently. Despite research suggestions to the contrary, only one in four elders used unconventional diabetes therapies, and only one-third listed someone other than a health care provider as a primary information source. Few self-care differences emerged according to race/ethnicity/residence, perhaps because of the influential and common circumstance of low income. Thematic analyses suggest that inadequate resources, perceived efficacy of medication, great respect for biomedical authority, and lack of familiarity with and concerns about unconventional therapies are influential in establishing these patterns of self-care. We discuss the similarity of self-care practices and perspectives irrespective of race/ethnicity/residence and the predominance of biomedical acceptability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-376
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements We gratefully acknowledge the support of The Ohio Long-Term Care Research Project, Scripps Gerontology Center, Miami University, and the other fieldsites where this project took place. We also acknowledge the contributions of Dr. Eleanor Stoller and Elizabeth Chapleski. Support: This research has been supported by a grant to Dr. Kart from the National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Aging (#AG17347).


  • African Americans
  • Mexican Americans
  • Native Americans
  • Rural residents
  • Self-care
  • Type 2 diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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