Mexican Immigrant Women’s Perceptions of Health Care Access for Stigmatizing Illnesses: A Focus Group Study in Albuquerque, New Mexico


This study examines attitudes of Mexican female immigrants to Albuquerque, New Mexico, regarding barriers to health care access in the United States and Mexico for stigmatizing and non-stigmatizing illnesses and moderating effects of social support. Native Spanish speakers conducted three focus groups (in Spanish) lasting two hours with seven to eight participants. Focus groups were transcribed, translated, and coded. Frequency data were calculated by number of times concepts or themes were raised. Comparisons of barriers to health care access were made between U.S. and Mexican cultures. The majority (86%) of comments on barriers for non-stigmatizing illnesses implicated U.S. culture; the majority (90%) for stigmatizing illnesses implicated Mexican culture. Social support for stigmatizing illnesses was discussed. Participants discussed important issues of health care access for stigmatizing illnesses that may have implications for this population’s health status. Greater attention should be paid to stigma and social support in future empirical studies.