The meanings of diabetes, healthy lifestyle and barriers to healthy lifestyle among Filipino immigrants in the United States

Document Type

Book Review


The purpose of this study was to explore the knowledge, perception, and beliefs of newly arrived Filipino immigrants regarding Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM), healthy lifestyle, and perceived barriers to healthy lifestyle. This is a qualitative study. A sample (n=40) of newly-arrived (less than six years in United States) first generation Filipino immigrants, not diagnosed with T2DM, living in southeastern part of United States were the focus of the study. Face to face interviews were conducted using an interview guide. No further interviews were conducted after data were saturated. The data sources were field notes and audio-recorded interviews, which were transcribed verbatim by the researcher. This study complied with the protocol for human subjects' protection as obtained from the institutional review board. Prior to analyses of the transcripts, each transcript was read at least twice and compared to the recordings to ensure accuracy and completeness. To ensure trustworthiness, selected transcripts were reviewed and coded by two experience qualitative researchers to ensure inter-coder reliability. A significant number of the participants had little knowledge and few beliefs about T2DM. The perceptions of T2DM were varied, but several beliefs were widely held: (a) T2DM is a "sugar disease" that is based on sweet food intake, (b) participants were aiming to achieved healthy lifestyles through diet, exercise and prayers and (c) T2DM can result from several factors, including barriers to healthy lifestyle that includes stress, possible discrimination, and not enough information to navigate health resources. Although immigration brings opportunities, there are also numerous risks. Some of the diabetes beliefs that this study delineates provide anchors for future culturally appropriate intervention programs for recent Filipino immigrants. One of the major findings in this study was the low diabetes literacy among the participants. Immigrants with low diabetes literacy may have lower awareness of the disease condition, which may have a negative impact on their disease prevention behaviors. Migratory background is also an important factor influencing beliefs about disease prevention. These results provide information for the design of health programs for the prevention of T2DM in the Philippines and United States.