Clinical Medical Anthropology

I choose to write about clinical medical anthropology for several reasons, the first being to do with my future career. In the future I know I will have to work with patients that come from different cultural beliefs and backgrounds. The reason this topic stuck out to me is that I have already had some experience with this while working with doctors through various volunteer events. These events have given medical help to those who do not have insurance and would not normally see a doctor. These patients come from various beliefs and typically poor areas. It was very important for us to understand how to convey to them what needed to be done and how to improve their health. Before doing this care, we actually were required to watch video lectures from a medical anthropologist on how to provide the best care.

If, for example I were working as a medical anthropologist with a doctor and epidemiologist, I would help them to not just see symptoms and a disease but to view a person. The identification of their habits and beliefs may help to identify what illness the person is suffering from and what type of treatment they may respond positively towards. In the article by Kleinman and Benson, I think it is very important that they note culture is not static and has many variables in todays society. A doctor may see a man who has little knowledge of a disease (HIV in this case) so he has neglected to take care of his family, however a medical anthropologist identify he know the disease quite well due to local nonprofit supports. However, he did not have the money to regularly get help from a doctor. Taking various approaches to understanding a patient may help to truly understand how their lives are affected by an illness instead of assuming things based on a cultural stereotype. In another article by Parry, physical therapy clinicians are also shown how taking a medical anthropological approach to working with patients can be beneficial. The most interesting bit of the article I think was talking about compliance and how to get people to comply with treatment based on differences in their beliefs and attitudes.

Arthur, Kleinman, and Peter Benson. “Anthropology in the Clinic: The Problem of Cultural Competency and How to Fix It.” PLOS medicine.

Parry, Katherine K. “Concepts from Medical Anthropology for Clinicians.” Physical Therapy 64 (1984): 929-33.


This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. Jesse Miller says:

    You brought up many of the same ways that anthropology can be used to help in clinical medical anthropology as I had thought of. I especially appreciated your acknowledgement of how diseases do not affect every single person the same and how cultural differences could help determine what is wrong with the patient. One thing that I feel that you could have also noted when talking about the cultural differences is maybe from a different sector, you seemed to stick mainly in the professional sector but could have noted another medical field from either the folk sector which could entail shamans or you could have mentioned someone from the popular sector. The acknowledgment that people could get counseling to get them the kind of care that they able to have and what would work with their beliefs makes perfect sense and is how I believe the medical system should be working normally. Overall we had most of the same ideas and I feel that adding an anthropologist’s point of view when it comes to clinical medical anthropology because it adds other ways to think about how to treat patients and how to better accommodate their personal beliefs with their medical care.

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