Clinical Medical Anthropology

For this week’s blog I chose to investigate Clinical Medical Anthropology as an intersection of applied medical anthropology. The field I hope to end up in some day is sports management, so none of this really relates to that. Most of the topics do not directly apply to my major of economics either, but the one that interested me the most was Clinical Medical Anthropology. I found an article that discusses the intersection of the clinical world and the anthropological world and the problems that may arise. As the lecture states, “Clinical Anthropologists are anthropologists who work with medical professionals and patients in clinical settings on ways to improve health care and management.”  They must emphasize the cultural context of an illness experience. In order to determine how to help/treat a patient a Clinical Medical Anthropologist must get to know each individual patient and not make assumptions. The article I read made gave examples on the differences of how doctors and anthropologists might think.  In one example given is a case that involves a man and his four year old son who are both HIV positive. The man’s wife died of AIDS a year earlier. Though the boy is HIV positive, his father has not brought him in for regular care. The author of the article said that while a doctor or clinician assumed “that the problem turned on a radically different cultural understanding.” On the other hand, the anthropologist determined that the issue was not due to cultural differences but rather the man’s socioeconomic situation. Through talking to him, the anthropologist was able to learn about his understanding of HIV, his low-paying job, and his late night shifts that prevented him from taking his son to get treatment. This is why it is important to take an anthropological approach to situations like this. While it is extremely important to try to learn how different cultures treat different diseases and illnesses, it is also important for them not to generalize.


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