Epidemiology and Medical Anthropology

The intersection of medical anthropology and epidemiology really stood out to me the most. First when you think about an epidemic, most would just assume an infectious disease was the center of attention, and well this could be the case and some times is, epidemiology can be used with almost any disease or illness. For example, I have a strong interest in bone health with aspirations of becoming an orthopedic surgeon, although these clinicians aren’t typically doing studies out in the field and collecting raw data, it can be very beneficial to use the numbers collected by epidemiologist and the cultural contexts with provided studies constructed by medical anthropologist to have a solid foundation when going about your own practice. For example continuing with bone health, osteoporosis and it’s development/prevention is always a strong subject, studies continue to be conducted to see who may be at a larger risk for development and what potential characteristics or confounders do these groups of people/populations share. With knowledge of confounding variables that play apart into a specific disease, a different or more preventative approach could be developed to reduce the incidence of that said disease.

It’s very important for a doctor or physician to take ideologies of anthropology into account when going about their practice in an everyday clinical setting. As described in the course materials this week, “Anthropology and the clinic” provides a great explanation as why this is important. If the doctor takes too much of a biomedical approach and simply just treats the patient to what he believes to be wrong with the patient, many problems can arise. Each patient has a different story, which needs to be taken into account by the physician in order to completely understand how to diagnose and how to approach treatment issues. Being too “biomedical” can sometimes backfire in that a diagnosis might go unnoticed or might not even be considered. Overall, the concept of culture and other factors associated with anthropology need to be taken into account by a physician to a certain extent and need to understand exactly whats at stake for each individual patient.

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