The Health Beliefs of Mexican, Mexican American and Anglo American Women

Felipe Castro, Pauline Furth, Herbert Karlow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


The health-illness beliefs in five health domains as related to level of acculturation were examined in 102 Mexican, Mexican American, and Anglo American women. The five health domains examined were Mexican folk beliefs, hot-cold theory of illness beliefs, beliefs of responsibility and control over own health, cardiovascular disease beliefs, and stress-illness beliefs. The question of interest was whether less acculturated Mexican women as compared with more acculturated and Anglo women have a significantly different conceptual system of health-illness beliefs in these five domains. A different health belief schemata in these less acculturated women might function as a barrier to their acceptance of and compliance with biomedical treatments. The Mexican-origin women expressed mild acceptance of Mexican folk beliefs, a moderate acceptance of hot-cold beliefs and a strong acceptance of biomedical beliefs (cardiovascular and stress-illness beliefs). The less aculturated women reported having a somewhat lower sense of responsibility and control over own health as characterized by a greater acceptance of powerful external agents, God, chance, the doctor, as determinants of health outcomes. These results suggest that Mexican-origin.women have a dual system of belief which tends to weaken but not disappear with increasing acculturation. This dual system however would not appear to interfere with their ability to accept and comply with prescribed biomedical health regimens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-383
Number of pages19
JournalHispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1984
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology


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