• diabetes mellitus;
  • migrants;
  • healthcare professionals;
  • health/illness beliefs;
  • cultural characteristics


One hundred and forty nine physicians and nurses working with diabetes care answered a semi-structured questionnaire with open-ended questions, about perceived differences between migrant and Swedish patients with diabetes with regard to patients' beliefs about health and illness. Throughout the study, between 12% and 31% of the respondents said they “didn't know”, despite their high contact frequency with migrants. Migrants were perceived as less knowledgeable about bodily functions and diabetes; as attaching more importance to individual factors such as retention of former habits and social relations; as using alternative medicine and drugs to achieve health when ill; and as seeking healthcare mainly in the professional sector. Eighty nine per cent of the physicians and nurses perceived communication difficulties and cultural dissimilarities as affecting compliance, when caring for migrants with diabetes. Migrants were perceived to be different. There is a need for training programmes for healthcare professionals to minimise differences about cultural beliefs and communication.