W6 Reflection: Epidemiology

I chose to focus on epidemiology because it is a cornerstone of public health linking risks to disease and hence enhancing preventative care. There is a lot to be learned from the patterns in which health issues present themselves because they will guide scientists to narrow the field of search in identifying the cause of disease. The word epidemiology literally means “the study of what is upon the people” so it is an observation based science, and as a future health professional I am going to use my skills of observation and empathy to understand a patients condition and how the patient may perceive his or her own condition. So this intersection of the objective with the subjective will be what I hope, a source of keen insight to improving a patient’s situation.

Medical anthropology brings in a cultural and ethnic perspective into healthcare. It acknowledges the influence of culture and societal elements in identifying the cause and treatment of disease. Many healthcare professionals lack the training and sensitivity to identify or link a patient’s cultural and societal background to the patient’s health situation and the ways to treat the disease.

The practice of medical anthropology can introduce keen information to improve patient-physician relationships leading to simpler and more effective solutions to health issues and improved prevention and realistic and cost-effective treatment options. These become possible through an understanding of how societal and cultural factors shape a human being’s overall well being and lifestyle

2 thoughts on “W6 Reflection: Epidemiology

  1. Hey Anissa!
    Your post really encompasses a lot of very important features of epidemiology. The bond and understanding between a patient and their doctor is what will make the journey easy for them between sickness and health. I think that it helps bring more knowledge to doctors and researchers when they study diseases so they can see what cultural practices might spread them or what genes might render someone immune to diseases. All of the different sub fields are ones that bring more understanding and knowledge to the table. And as that information base grows, the public and the professionals become more educated about diseases and cultures as well. The most taboo cultural practices (in our eyes) might hold an effective way to prevent a certain kind of infection, or that practice might be causing the infection. Knowing these connections will help us be able to dive into this void of endless solutions. There are so many untouched cultures that might have valuable information. Just imagine the amount of information and the new solutions we can come up with by looking at a different group of people from an unbiased point of view.

  2. Hi Anissa,
    I completely agree with you on the importance of an applied anthropological perspective when studying epidemiology. In my post I didn’t discuss the importance of doctors understanding the cultures of their patients for a treatment perspective, however I did discuss the importance of epidemiologists understanding various cultural aspects. You discussed the importance of understanding culture to treat disease, but I think you missed the prevention aspect. You briefly touched on the topic of prevention but did not really go into detail on the subject. In my post I said that it is important to understand the culture and social aspects of a society in order to prevent the spread of disease because if cultural or social constraints are interfering with preventative measures, they will be ineffective. An example of this cultural interference was discussed in this week’s lecture in the example of the spread of HIV through breastfeeding. This example showed that the cultural aspect of a mother’s responsibility to feed their child is a stronger influence than the preventative measures of not breastfeeding. A similar example was the example where people are not using malaria nets because they believe that the pesticides on the nets are a greater poison than the malaria they are helping to prevent. An anthropologist could help to educate the people about the pesticides and help them to understand that they are less dangerous than malaria.

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