Illness representations and cultural practices play a role in patient-centered care in childhood asthma: Experiences of Mexican mothers

Kimberly Arcoleo, Luis E. Zayas, April Hawthorne, Rachelle Begay

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    31 Scopus citations


    Objective: Patients cultural health beliefs and behaviors may conflict with biomedical healthcare values and practices potentially leading to non-adherence with asthma treatment regimens. To optimize shared decision-making, healthcare providers should understand and be sensitive to these cultural beliefs and behaviors and negotiate an asthma management plan acceptable to parents. The purpose of this study was to obtain the perspective of Mexican mothers regarding (1) their experiences of living with a child with asthma, (2) their understanding of the nature of asthma, and (3) how their cultural beliefs influence asthma management. Methods: A qualitative, phenomenological study design was employed to assess mothers lived experiences with and perceptions of their childs asthma. Individual in-depth interviews were conducted with a purposeful sample of 20 Mexican mothers of children ages 5-17 years with asthma. An inductive, theory-driven, phenomenological analysis approach was used to elicit thematic findings. Results: Mothers expressed a symptomatic perception of asthma and limited understanding of the disease. Most believe the disease is present only when their child is symptomatic. Many are surprised and puzzled by the unpredictability of their childs asthma attacks, which they report as sometimes "silent". The inconsistency of triggers also leads to frustration and worry, which may reflect their concerns around daily controller medication use and preference for alternative illness management strategies. Conclusions: Our clinical encounters should be refocused to better understand the context of these families lives and the cultural lens through which they view their childs asthma.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)699-706
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Asthma
    Issue number7
    StatePublished - Aug 9 2015


    • Asthma
    • childhood
    • illness representations
    • latino
    • shared decision-making

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
    • Immunology and Allergy
    • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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