Clinical Medical Anthropology

For this weeks blog I chose to investigate clinical medical anthropology. The reason why this interests me the most is because In the future I hope to become a doctor and this is the area of applied medical anthropology that relates to it the most. When I am working as a doctor, it would be in my benefit to apply some of the save views a clinical medical anthropologist would. Instead of looking at the right and wrong way of doing treatments, they look at how culture affects it and makes the choice based on getting to know the patient. When looking at a patient, the doctor sees what is wrong with the patient example: undernutrition, but the anthropologist can see economic issues, environmental issues, etc. in more depth. Having a viewpoint like this can help the doctor possibly think of a better treatment approach and help the patient in more ways than one.

An example that I found in an article, “Anthropology in the Clinic: The Problem of Cultural Competency and How To Fix It”, was a man whose son had HIV but the man did not bring his son regularly in to see the doctor.This doctor assumed that the man had a different understanding of the disease because he was of different culture and that he didn’t know how severe the condition was. However, the anthropologist had a different take on the case and understood that he had known all about HIV it was just that he could not afford to come in regularly. Having this view by the anthropologist helped understand better what was actually happening instead of the doctor assuming it was because he was of different culture (Kleinman 2006). The anthropologist took the time to talk with him and connect with the patients so that he was listened to fully. I know that this does not apply to all doctors, but if some of them took more of a anthropologist approach they could have a better connection with their patients.

Kleinman, Arthur, and Peter Benson. “Anthropology In The Clinic: The Problem Of Cultural Competency And How To Fix It.” PLoS Medicine 3, no. 10 (2006): E294. Accessed August 7, 2014. http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030294.

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  1. Meredith Joseph says:

    I also am going into the medical field and choose to write about clinical medical anthropology. In your reflection you explained how more doctors should take an anthropologist approach to treating patients, which I agree with. I in fact think things should be taken a step further and think doctors should have an anthropologist working with them or have a degree in anthropology. As we learned this week there are much better medical results when an anthropologist is involved and a patient is looked at as a whole culturally, physically, and mentally. Especially when working with patients that are cross cultured it is important to know their full back round and figure out how to best treat them. Not just treat everyone the same because it is the most common way to treat whatever illness the patient has. Has you mentioned in your example a doctor who had no medical anthropology back round thought one of his patients did not understand how critical their condition of HIV really was, but in fact he knew all about it. After the anthropologist talked to the patient it was discovered in fact he was very familiar with the illness for it was probably common in their culture, but they could not afford regular treatment. This patient knew all the harm that was being done to their body, but could not get proper treatment. This also shows that health care need to be more accessible to everyone.

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