Clinical Medical Anthropology

According to lecture video on “Applied Medical Anthropology” clinical anthropologists work with medical professionals and patients in clinical settings on ways to improve healthcare and management. Just like in global health arena these anthropologists apply the same theoretical and methodological training to address barriers to health. One of the primary goals of clinical anthropologists is to emphasize the cultural context of an illness experience. This especially important when clinicians are treating patients from other cultures who understand health through different ethnomedical systems and explanatory models.Anthropologists are important because according to the lecture video “Applied Medical Anthropology, they “recognize that neither of the clinician nor the patient is a blank slate and that the only way to come up with a workable treatment program is to consider the complete cultural, biological, psychological and social circumstances.” In essence I  would say that this a more affective approach because the treatment program considers a persons biological, cultural, psychological and social factors in creating a workable treatmentl. All these factors are important in creating a treatment for a person because they act as a cultural mediator to develop the best possible strategies to achieve health for individual patients

I picked this intersection because I believe clinical medical anthropology is essential and important in treating patients more affectively by providing a recovery plan that reflects their cultural and social needs. Medical clinicians are essential because they provide a link and communication between the patient and the medical world. According to the article Anthropology in the Clinic: The Problem of Cultural Competency and How to Fix It, “clinicians are grounded in the world of the patient, in their own personal network, and in the professional world of biomedicine and institutions. Clinicians serve as social and cultural links that connect the patients to the social world of the medical field. If I was working with a provider in the area of clinical medical anthropology who is not an anthropologists I would explain to the provider that taking an anthropological approach is useful in this particular area because “culture factors are crucial to diagnosis, treatment, and care”(Kleinman & Benson 1673). These factors help shape beliefs, values, and behaviors that reflects a patients culture. This is invaluable because it allows the clinicians to understand and formulate a treatment that will help their patient recover base on their cultural needs. Clinical medical anthropologist are for the patients and the serve as communicators for their patients to the medical world.

 

 

 

Sources

Kleinman and Benson – Anthropology and the Clinic

http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp204-us12/files/2012/06/6.-Kleinman-and-Benson-Anthropology-in-the-clinic.pdf

Lecture: 6.1- “Applied Medical Anthropology”

5 thoughts on “Clinical Medical Anthropology

  1. I agree that clinical medical anthropology is essential to a clinical work place setting. Understanding what part of the world someone comes from and what different types of treatment are acceptable to them is necessary to allow for a quick and efficient treatment for a patient. One thing I would say needs a little more attention is not only understanding what culture a patient comes from, but how that specific culture views there disease/illness, and how they would go about treating it if at all. This allows the physician to intervene with their traditions as little as possible.
    This class will have a large impact on how I interact with patients and doctors in the future. As a patient I now understand why they go through the steps they do to get to a treatment, so they do not wrongly diagnose someone which may go against their traditional healing. In the future, as a pediatrician, I will be able to understand the cultural boundaries and be able to administer care accordingly. This class has given me much useful information about these different boundaries and how to avoid them. I plan on using this information to not only keep myself out of a cultural problem, but to educate those around me so they do not make those mistakes.

  2. I agree that clinical medical anthropologists are key in the treatment of patients because they provide a cultural reference for the illness a patient experiences. This sensitivity to culture is essential in recognizing that it is not necessarily true that one cure fits all. Treatment should be tailored to each individual patient to provide the most accurate and effective healthcare possible. I think it is possible that medical anthropology could really contribute to the clinical sector by providing doctors and physicians with the necessary tools to help patients that do not take on the sick role. It is common in Western medicine for patients to assume the sick role because it is normally a choice to make a doctor’s appointment or to go to the emergency room. However, for patients, who through their cultural beliefs, do not view their condition as something that needs to be fixed or cured, medical care can be provided in culturally sensitive ways that will encourage them to seek help but on their own will.

    I believe this class will aid in my understanding of how healthcare is provided on a wide scale. It is important that explain to my doctor exactly how I am experiencing illness and to make sure that the treatment I’m receiving is not just a cure all but actually tailors to my needs. Also as someone that is pursuing a public health graduate degree, I will be able to improve the quality of care that patients are receiving and make sure that cultural sensitivity is something that is practiced routinely.

  3. You touched on the imperative function of clinical anthropologists in devising a strategy for recovery compatible with the patient’s sociocultural worldview. Consistent with the role of all applied medical anthropologists, clinical medical anthropologists in essence work ‘in the trenches’ by designing personalized medical interventions at local levels, emphasizing the experiential aspects of illness, and bearing in mind semantic meanings derived from culturally-bound explanatory models (Karim, 2012). The power of culturally-embedded illness schematics is demonstrated in the YouTube video “Medical Anthropology,” where it is described how implantation of intrauterine devices in Ecuadorian women to serve family planning interests backfired due to failure to acknowledge tribal beliefs about menstrual seclusion. Thus, IUD use translated into less supervision of children and villagers went hungry due to cultural prohibitions against food preparation during menstruation. Neglecting cultural values is in essence a paternalistic and ethnocentric doctrine that can negatively impact community health; hence, clinical anthropologists can be revolutionary in encouraging physicians to adopt a mini-ethnographic approach, “setting their expert knowledge alongside (not over and above) the patient’s own explanations” (Kleinman & Benson, 2006). This point can be superimposed on your discussion of how medical anthropologists can improve healthcare management by using their theoretical and methodological training, cultivating in the biomedical community a ‘native’s point of view’ and perception of a patient’s ‘local world’, and deducing how this is operationalized in “the lived experience of the patient’s illness” rather than as abstract formulations (Kleinman & Benson, 2006).

    As you referenced, the approach of clinical anthropologists is individual, in that each patient embodies a unique constellation of biological, psychological, and sociocultural variables to be taken into account when implementing medical regimens. To expand on your analysis, clinical anthropologists also reject the notion that “culture can be reduced to a technical skill for which clinicians can be trained to develop expertise” (Kleinman & Benson, 2006). This is instrumental because overestimating the role of culture or condensing culture to a static, homogenous entity exerting uniform effects across the group in question leads to oversimplifications about mastering cultural competency. Circumscribing individuals based on the fallacy of stereotypes can engender a “‘trait list approach’ that understands culture as a set of already-known factors’” (Kleinman & Benson, 2006). For instance, overgeneralizations about culturally-contextualized illness ideology led to miscommunications between an HIV-positive Mexican patient forgoing treatment and his doctors, who attributed his behavior to radical divergence in illness interpretation. Rather, his socioeconomic circumstance as an underpaid night-shift bus driver prevented him from fulfilling physician recommendations.

    This class will affect my future interactions or employment alongside health care providers because I can use my knowledge of medical anthropology to promote culturally informed care. I can endorse the consideration of patients as culturally-encapsulated beings, and discourage objectification of patients as subjects of empirical inquiry. As articulated in Kleinman and Benson, humanization of patients entails that the clinical transaction is “an opportunity for the doctor to engage in an essential moral task, not an issue in cost-accounting” and requires that practitioners orient themselves with “an elective affinity to the patient” (2006). As a future patient in the professional sector, I can ensure that I articulate my illness narrative and communicate what is at stake in my illness episode, such that physicians can reflect on cognitive, physiological, psychosocial, and socioeconomic barriers to care and adjust therapy accordingly (Kleinman & Benson, 2006).

    References

    Karim, Taz. Medical Anthropology. Michigan State University. 10 August 2012.

    Kleinman, A. & Benson, P. (October 2006). Anthropology in the Clinic: The Problem of Cultural Competency and How to Fix It. PLOS Medicine, 3(10): 1673-1376.

    “Medical Anthropology” –Tribal Jazzman Scholar, Episode #26 [Video File]. August 10, 2012. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjDPwF9uV58

  4. After reading your post, I found your points to be very informative and intellectual. I completely agree with your point of view on why it is important that clinical anthropologist work together with medical professionals. Not only is it important for medical professionals to know the culture of the people they are treating, but getting to know the patient’s personal beliefs on biomedicine is also vital. I think you did a good job explaining why it is important for consider a all the factors the affect a person when determining an appropriate treatment program. Only when a person believes the treatment will work, can it then be effective. Clinical anthropologists and medical professional must work together with the patient in order to find out what that treatment program will be. While knowing the beliefs of different cultures can help with this, I think it is necessary to learn individual cases before jumping to conclusions.
    This class helped me to understand why doctors and other medical professionals ask you so many questions before treating you. Now I understand the importance of this. Everybody has different experiences with illness and disease so, medical professional need to learn how each individuals views their own health. By understanding the culture I live in, doctors are better suited to give me a more appropriate treatment program.

  5. After reading your post, I found your points to be very informative and intellectual. I completely agree with your point of view on why it is important that clinical anthropologist work together with medical professionals. Not only is it important for medical professionals to know the culture of the people they are treating, but getting to know the patient’s personal beliefs on biomedicine is also vital. I think you did a good job explaining why it is important for consider a all the factors the affect a person when determining an appropriate treatment program. Only when a person believes the treatment will work, can it then be effective. Clinical anthropologists and medical professional must work together with the patient in order to find out what that treatment program will be. While knowing the beliefs of different cultures can help with this, I think it is necessary to learn individual cases before jumping to conclusions.

    This class helped me to understand why doctors and other medical professionals ask you so many questions before treating you. Now I understand the importance of this. Everybody has different experiences with illness and disease so, medical professional need to learn how each individuals views their own health. By understanding the culture I live in, doctors are better suited to give me a more appropriate treatment program.

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