Health beliefs of marshallese regarding type 2 diabetes

Pearl Anna McElfish, Emily Hallgren, L. Jean Henry, Mandy Ritok, Jellesen Rubon-Chutaro, Peter Kohler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Objectives: The Marshallese population suffers from disproportionate rates of type 2 diabetes. This study identifies the underlying beliefs and perceptions that affect diabetes self-management behavior in the US Marshallese population living in Arkansas. Methods: The study employs focus groups with a semi-structured interview guide developed using a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach and the Health Belief Model. Data were collected from 41 participants; bilingual community co-investigators provided translation as needed. Results: The results show high-perceived threat, with most participants describing diabetes as inevitable and a death sentence. Participants are generally unaware of the benefits of diabetes self-management behaviors, and the Marshallese population faces significant policy, environmental, and systems barriers to diabetes self-management. The primary cue to action is a diagnosis of diabetes, and there are varying levels of self-efficacy. Conclusions: The research grounded in the Health Belief Model provides important contributions that can help advance diabetes self-management efforts within Pacific Islander communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)248-257
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Community-based participatory research
  • Diabetes
  • Health disparities
  • Minority health
  • Pacific Islanders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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