Culture and risk assessments: Why latino americans perceive greater risk for diabetes

Camille D. Basilio, Sau Kwan, Michelle J. Towers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: Large ethnic disparities exist in health outcomes, yet little is known about the psychological mechanisms that underlie these differences. We propose that a key to understanding ethnic minority health is to recognize the cultural factors that influence perceived vulnerability to disease (PVD), specifically ethnicity and ethnic identification. In 3 studies, we examined how these cultural factors were associated with PVD to Type II diabetes, a highly prevalent disease among Latino Americans. We had 3 specific aims. The first was to examine ethnic group differences in PVD between European Americans and Latino Americans. The second was to examine potential psychological mechanisms that account for ethnic differences in PVD. The third was to examine the relationship between ethnic identification and PVD among Latino Americans. Method: Participants in all studies were young European American and Latino American adults and were from independent samples. In all 3 studies, participants completed the questionnaires online. Results: Study 1 found that Latino Americans as compared with European Americans have higher PVD to diabetes. Study 2 showed that perceived similarity to the typical person who gets diabetes and the number of reported family members with diabetes predicted the degree of PVD to diabetes. However, we found that the nature of the associations between these mechanisms and perceived risk differed by ethnic group. Study 3 examined what may be influencing perceived similarity for Latino Americans; we found ethnic identification is a significant factor. Discussion: Together, the present findings have broad implications for diabetes communication, education, and health campaigns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)104-113
Number of pages10
JournalCultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Culture
  • Diabetes
  • Ethnic identification
  • Latino Americans
  • Perceived risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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