Clinical Medical Anthropology

For this weeks blog I chose to explore Clinical Medical Anthropology. I chose this area of applied medical anthropology because it most closely relates to my future career plans of becoming a PA. While working as a PA, I think that it would be beneficial to apply the viewpoints of a clinical medical anthropologist in order to understand how cultural beliefs affect medical treatment. People from different backgrounds often times have different cultural beliefs that affect their medical care. For example, some cultures feel that a female patient should only be seen by a female doctor. In the US most families don’t mind if a doctor of the opposite sex is treating their child, but other cultures may feel very strongly in regards to this situation. Therefore, it is very important for individuals working in health care to understand the importance of applied medical anthropology, to ensure that the patient feels as comfortable as possible and that their cultural beliefs have not been infringed.

An anthropological approach could be very beneficial to doctors working with patients from other countries or backgrounds. For example, in the Tribal Jazzman video he spoke about doctors prescribing IUDs to women in remote villages to keep them from getting pregnant and having so many children. But one of the side effects of IUDs was prolonged and more severe bleeding and in this tribe, women were secluded during menstruation. As a result, women were secluded for longer periods of time, leaving them unable to care for their homes and children. This had a negative impact on the health of these tribes as children went hungry and were left uncared for. Clearly the doctors did not understand the impact that the medical treatment would have on the community because they did not have an understanding of their cultural beliefs. By understanding the beliefs and customs of other cultures, doctors will be able to more effectively treat their patients, and do so without repercussions.

“Medical Anthropology,” YouTube video, 7:55, posted by “TribalJazzman,” Feburary 18, 2011,

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