“It’s Not That We Care Less”: Insights into Health Care Utilization for Comorbid Diabetes and Depression among Latinos

Abstract

Despite robust knowledge regarding the socio-economic and cultural factors affecting Latino* access to healthcare, limited research has explored service utilization in the context of comorbid conditions like diabetes and depression. This qualitative study, embedded in a larger mixed-methods project, aimed to investigate perceptions held by Latinos and their social support systems (i.e., family members) regarding comorbid diabetes and depression and to identify barriers and facilitators to their help-seeking behaviors and treatment engagement. Bilingual and bicultural researchers conducted eight focus groups with 94 participants in a large U.S. metropolitan area and were primarily conducted in Spanish. The participants either had a diagnosis of diabetes and depression or were closely associated with someone who did. This study identified key individual and structural barriers and facilitators affecting healthcare access and treatment for Latinos living with comorbid diagnoses. A thematic analysis revealed structural barriers to healthcare access, including financial burdens and navigating healthcare institutions. Personal barriers included fears, personal responsibility, and negative family dynamics. Facilitators included accessible information, family support, and spirituality. These findings underscore the need to address these multi-level factors and for healthcare institutions and providers to actively involve Hispanic community members in developing services and interventions.

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Citation

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 21 (2): 148 (2024)