Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Theses & dissertations (Interdisciplinary)

First Advisor

Cornelia Flora

Second Advisor

Kimberly Greder


This study explores how the health competence of Latina immigrant mothers living in rural Iowa is influenced by their social, cultural and human capitals. By exploring the role of women's informal networks in disseminating knowledge and practices related to maintaining family health, this study sheds light on the role of cultural values, gendered knowledge and social cohesion in enhancing health competence of Latina immigrant mothers. This study draws a purposive sample from Rural Families Speak about Health (RFSH), a multi-state study that examines the physical and mental health of ethnically diverse rural families with low incomes and young children. A focus group and in depth-interviews were conducted with eight Latina mothers. Findings suggest that Latina immigrant mothers incorporate both traditional and biomedical health beliefs as they devise ways to provide health care for their families within a context that restricts their access to formal health care. Translational and local ties positively affect Latina immigrant mothers' sense of self-efficacy by providing them with information and resources of biomedical and traditional health care. Latina immigrant mothers make collective decisions regarding health through consultation with their networks. Many of the mothers look inward to relatives for health information. While informal local networks can be a source of health information, these networks are few and often weak. Recommendations include insights on how to mobilize Latina immigrant mothers' social, human and cultural capitals in order to enhance their agency within the U.S. political-economic context that restrict Latina immigrant's access to formal health care.


Copyright Owner

Flor de Maria Romero de Slowing



Date Available


File Format


File Size

127 pages