Acculturation, locus of control, and glucose levels among American Indians with diabetes

Gennea A. Danks
Counseling, University of North Dakota
July, 2006


Diabetes is a critical health care issue for American Indian tribes throughout the United States. Research is increasingly considering the emotional, psychological, and social aspects of the disease, in addition to the physical attributes and consequences of diabetes. Locus of control has been examined in relationship to glucose control and diabetes treatment. The current study attempted to further this line of research by examining the relationship between locus of control and diabetes control (measured by blood glucose levels) in a sample of American Indians, a population that continue to receive limited attention in health and health psychology research. In addition, this study extended the examination of this relationship by also considering acculturation and its relationship to both locus of control and glucose level.

One-hundred-fifty-three adult American Indian residents of a rural reservation community participated in the study. They completed the Northern Plains Bicultural Immersion Scale, the Diabetes Locus of Control Scale, and a measurement of Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c). No significant relationship was found between locus of control and hemoglobin, between acculturation and hemoglobin, or between acculturation and locus of control. The only significant predictor of hemoglobin was the age of the diabetes diagnosis, indicating that the longer a person had lived with diabetes, the more likely he/she was to control his/her hemoglobin levels. Several possible reasons for these findings, as well as limitations of the study and implications of the findings, are presented.