Society for Medical Anthropology
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
A massive effort has been made in Anthropology to build explanatory models of illnesses across cultures. Type- 2 diabetes has been mainly studied among ethnic groups that have a high prevalence of diabetes. The goal of this research was to build a cultural belief model for type-2 diabetes among first and second generation Arab American Muslims in Dearborn, Michigan. Two stages of data collection were carried, In the first stage, I used participant observation and in-depth interviewing; including free listing tasks to explore the causes, symptoms, and treatments of type-2 diabetes. The results of the free lists analysis show 12 core causes, 15 core symptoms, and 6 core treatments. Also, the interview narratives suggest an incomplete understanding of the proper medication and dosage for managing diabetes. They also indicate the effect of stress on diabetics and the possible added pressure as a result of the obligation for paying “Zakah” as a penalty for not fasting in Ramadan. In the second stage, I designed a cultural consensus survey to test whether Arab American Muslims in Dearborn share an overall cultural model of type-2 diabetes. The cultural consensus analysis results show that both generations share a cultural model of diabetes. To test for additional possible variation, I correlated demographic variables with the second factor loading produced in the consensus analysis. Both generation and age showed correlation. Running the cultural consensus analysis after dividing the sample based on age and generation confirmed that the subgroups have differences in their knowledge of diabetes.