Online Program

“It's very difficult to find a person who listens to you.” Mental Health Concerns and Social Isolation in Low-Income Latinos with Diabetes

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 9:10 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

Patricia Fernandez Piñeros, Department of Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Amanda Benitez, MPH, Department of Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Sara Baghikar, MD, MPH, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Yue Gao, MPH, Department of Medicine, Section of General Internal Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Arshiya Baig, MD, MPH, Department of Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Background/Purpose:  Latino immigrants in the United States are disproportionately impacted by diabetes. Examining how mental health affects diabetes self-management in this population can have implications to reduce health disparities. We sought to describe the mental health concerns among a sample of Latinos with diabetes.  

Methods/Approach:  In-depth interviews were conducted with 27 Latino adults with type 2 diabetes as part of a church-based, randomized controlled trial for diabetes self-management in a low-income, predominantly Mexican American neighborhood of Chicago. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and translated by bilingual staff. Transcripts were then coded using grounded theory methods and overarching themes were identified.

Findings: The sample included 5 males and 22 females, the mean age was 57 ± 11 years and the mean duration of diabetes was 8.8 ± 7.5 years. Twenty-three of 27 respondents mentioned mental health concerns during their interviews. Some participants reported that stress, anxiety, low mood, and alcoholism impeded functioning. Eight respondents reported feeling that there was no one who would listen to, understand, or help them, and described social, geographic, or self-isolation from their support networks or family.

Implications: Latino adults with diabetes mentioned multiple mental health concerns, including stress, anxiety, and low mood. Social isolation emerged as a prevalent theme and could have implications for the treatment of patients. Interventions to reduce health disparities in Latinos with diabetes may need to focus on building support networks for patients who are experiencing isolation.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Chronic disease management and prevention
Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the types of mental health concerns among our sample of Latino immigrants in Chicago. Discuss social isolation as a potential barrier to Latino patients' self-efficacy in diabetes management. Describe the ways in which future interventions or policies could be less effective if they do not address concerns of patient social isolation.

Keyword(s): Latinos, Diabetes

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the lead research assistant on the Picture Good Health Diabetes Project since October of 2013. My area of study is Latin American Studies (with a focus on Latino immigrants in the United States). I also have substantial qualitative research experience.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.