Knowledge and Use of Ethnomedical Treatments for Asthma Among Puerto Ricans in an Urban Community
PURPOSE Puerto Ricans have higher lifetime and current asthma prevalence than other racial and ethnic groups in the United States. A great many Hispanics use ethnomedical therapies for asthma. This study elicited participant knowledge of ethnomedical therapies, developed a typology of the therapies, and considered whether some types are used or deemed efficacious based, in part, on information source.METHODS Eligible participants were randomly selected from the medical records of an inner-city primary care clinic serving a predominantly Hispanic community in Buffalo, New York. Thirty adult Puerto Ricans who had asthma or were care-givers of children with asthma were interviewed in person using a semistructured instrument. Qualitative data analysis followed a content-driven immersion-crystallization approach. Outcome measures were ethnomedical treatments for asthma known to participants, whether these treatments were used or perceived effective, and the participant’s information source about the treatment.RESULTS Participants identified 75 ethnomedical treatments for asthma. Behavioral strategies were significantly more likely to be used or perceived effective compared with ingested and topical remedies (P <.001). Among information sources for ingested and topical remedies, those recommended by community members were significantly less likely to be used or perceived effective (P <.001) compared with other sources.CONCLUSIONS This sample of Puerto Ricans with a regular source of medical care was significantly more likely to use or perceive as effective behavioral strategies compared with ingested and topical remedies. Allopathic clinicians should ask Puerto Rican patients about their use of ethnomedical therapies for asthma to better understand their health beliefs and to integrate ethnomedical therapies with allopathic medicine.