Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

The Use of Prayer by Hispanic Migrant Farmworkers with Type 2 Diabetes

Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

The Use of Prayer by Hispanic Migrant Farmworkers with Type 2 Diabetes

Article excerpt

Abstract: Praying for issues related to health can be a very important aspect in peoples' lives. Since research on this practice is limited, a qualitative study was conducted that explored the use of prayer in Hispanic migrant farmworkers diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Eighteen farmworkers were interviewed and asked two specific questions with multiple probes to elicit information regarding their religious practices and prayer. Reponses regarding religious practices were extremely limited whereas the farmworkers expounded on the question relating to prayer. Three main themes emerged: 1) Farmworkers used prayer in their daily lives; 2) Farmworkers prayed for themselves and their family; and 3) Farmworkers recited prayers specifically for their diabetes.

Key Words: Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes, Prayer, Diabetic Lay Educator, Hispanic Migrant, Farmworker

Prayer is central to the particular concept of spirituality which is noted by many cultural care theorists as being a vital component in the understanding of peoples' health care practices and should not be ignored by health care providers (Spector, 2004; Leininger & McFarland, 2006). Religious involvement can affect physical symptoms, quality of life, and patients' willingness to receive treatment (Lee & Newberg, 2005). "Thus, the health-care practitioner, who is aware of the client's religious practices and spiritual needs, is in a better position to promote culturally competent health care" (Purnell & Paulanka, 2003, p. 33).

Historically, the invasion by Roman Catholic Spaniards in the region now known as Mexico ignited a change in the social structure of religion. The influence of the Roman Catholic Spaniards can be seen today in many Mexican American families where religion is embedded in their daily lives (Leininger & McFarland, 2002). For example, many family homes have altars with a statue of the Virgin Guadalupe, pictures of saints and lit candles. These altars are often the focal points of the home (Spector, 2004). During this study, when participant interviews were conducted in the home, the researchers noticed there was a small area devoted to religious expression. These observations are consistent with Leininger's and McFarland's (2002) findings that religiosity is evident in Mexican American homes where pictures of Jesus or the Virgin Mary, and statuary are commonly found. This is also the area where families will light candles and pray for their health and the health of others (J. Hines, personal communication, July 19, 2007).

Current data indicate Hispanics are more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes when compared to nonHispanic Whites (National Council of La Raza, 2007). On average, Hispanic/Latino Americans are 1.5 times more likely to have diabetes than non-Hispanic whites of similar age. Of Hispanic/Latino Americans aged 20 years or older, 8.2% have been diagnosed with diabetes. Mexican Americans, the largest Hispanic /Latino subgroup, are twice more likely to have diabetes than non-Hispanic whites of similar age (Centers for Disease Control, 2005, p. 5). Spector (2004) notes that Mexican Americans with severe illness, such as type 2 diabetes, are more likely to practice the offering of prayers. "Though many people practice prayer and believe it affects their health, scientific evidence is limited" (Masters & Spielmans, 2007, p.329). Research from a nursing perspective is also very limited, especially among the Hispanic, migrant population. The purpose of this study was to investigate the meaning that spirituality, specifically prayer, had in a group of Hispanic migrant farmworkers diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. This was done to gain a deeper understanding of their lived experiences. In this manuscript, the term Hispanic is utilized to encompass individuals of Mexican descent.

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

Design

A qualitative study was conducted in the upper Midwest to explore perceptions of the lived experience of Hispanic migrant farmworkers diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. …

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