Explanatory models of health and disease among south Asian immigrants in Chicago

Manasi A. Tirodkar*, David W. Baker, Gregory T. Makoul, Neerja Khurana, Muhammad W. Paracha, Namratha R. Kandula

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


To identify concepts of health and disease as part of a study on designing culturally-targeted heart disease prevention messages for South Asians. We conducted qualitative, semi-structured interviews in English, Hindi and Urdu with 75 respondents from a federally qualified health center and at a community center for South Asian immigrants in Chicago, Illinois. Age ranged from 20 to 70 years; 60% were women; 60% held advanced degrees; 70% migrated to the US in the last 10 years; and 60% of the interviews were in Hindi or Urdu. Concepts of health and disease fell into four domains: behavioral, physical, psycho-social and spiritual. Muslim participants consistently evoked spiritual factors such as faith and prayer. Women more frequently included performing home duties and positive affect in their concept of health. Men more frequently cited behavioral factors such as smoking and drinking as the cause of disease. Many South Asians have a holistic conceptualization of health and disease, incorporating spiritual, physical and psycho-social factors. Health promotion strategies aimed at South Asians in the US should take into account this holistic model of health and disease, while also recognizing that variations exist within South Asians, by gender and religion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-394
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Immigrant and Minority Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Concepts of disease
  • Concepts of health
  • Immigrant health
  • South Asians

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Epidemiology


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