I picked epidemiology and medical anthropology because I believe they are both important complementary subjects that are useful when analyzing diseases. Epidemiology deals with control and distribution of diseases in populations. Medical anthropology, on the other hand, tends to deal with social and culture factors that affect the development, perception, and treatment of diseases among different cultures. The fields of epidemiology and medical anthropology apply to my interests because I intend on being a medical examiner. As a medical examiner, I will have to study the human body and causes of death. Disease is often a common factor relating to cause of death, so I’ll have to be familiar with the development of disease, as well as what factors could have potentially caused the disease, which is what medical anthropologists and epidemiologists study.
Epidemiologists study behavior that causes disease while anthropologists study social and cultural factors that cause these behaviors. If I was an anthropologist and I was working with an epidemiologist, I would be able to help the epidemiologist understand what factors lay behind the development of a certain disease. For example, infectious and parasitic disease investigators aren’t usually exposed to social factors that underline the disease. Anthropologists are trained to understand the social factors that underline the disease, though (Janes et al. 2008). Therefore, by having both of them, it’s pretty quick to understand certain diseases. Anthropologists are also useful when determining treatment for diseases. For example, like mentioned in lecture, if I was an anthropologist assisting an epidemiologist in India, and the epidemiologist knew that one way to prevent a certain disease was to boil the water, I’d be able to tell him that won’t work. Anthropologists focus on cultural factors, therefore I’d be able to tell him that in Indian culture, water is sort of like a sacred resource for them, and the boiling of it would destroy the value of the water to them.
Janes, Craig, Ron Stall, and Sandra Gifford. Anthropology and Epidemiology: Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Health and Disease (Culture, Illness and Healing) . New York: Springer, 2008. http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=ggn-VgZceYAC&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=epidemiology and medical anthropology&ots=BLr6-41fZu&sig=ACHx898JEw_vDFUYTcxm8iOfK7A