The Roles of Contemporary Mexican American Women in Domestic Health Work


Address correspondence to Cindy Mendelson, Assistant Professor, College of Nursing, University of New Mexico, 2502 Marble Avenue NE, Albuquerque, NM 87131. E-mail:


Abstract  Domestic health work is defined as the day-to-day household activities, which are often invisible, that create the backbone of healthy environments and healthy individuals. This article describes the roles of a sample of contemporary Mexican American women in domestic health work. Using an ethnographic design, 13 moderately to highly acculturated women were interviewed to determine their roles in domestic health work. Women's roles fell into two broad categories: being a parent and caring for the family. The findings from this research highlight the burden and conflict of multiple roles in this sample and provide insight into the processes by which contemporary Mexican American women maintain culturally defined roles that they feel are important. It also addresses the burdens that they feel are culturally unnecessary. This research has significance for nurses working in the context of the community and the household in that it explicates women's roles in domestic health work and points to the need for community-based nurses to be aware of the many voices of Mexican American women.