- Medical Anthropology
- Concepts of Racial/Ethnic Variation
- Medical and Research Ethics
- Culture of Biomedicine
- Health Care Policy
- Health Disparities
- Race and Genetics
- Health Care Systems
Dr. Hunt has conducted numerous research projects in both the United States and Mexico, focusing on clinical medicine and on health care for racial/ethnic minorities. Her recent research has focused on clinical understandings of genetic risk, chronic illness management, racial/ethnic identities in clinical contexts, and health care reform. Much of this research has examined the ways that health researchers and clinicians view minority populations, particularly how assumptions about cultural and biological difference are manifest in current health policy, interventions, professional training, research agendas, and clinical practice. Her research also examines access to health care for low-income individuals, and the influences of commercial interests on clinical medicine. Dr. Hunt currently teaches Overview of Medical Anthropology and Research Methods in Cultural Anthropology.
Current Research Projects
Dr. Hunt has conducted numerous research projects, primarily focusing on clinical medicine in the United States, with particular interest in health care for Latinos and other minority populations. Her research has been funded continuously through a series of NIH grants since the late 1990s. In many of these studies she has examined the ways that health researchers and clinicians view minority populations, particularly how assumptions about cultural and biological difference are manifest in health policy, intervention development and implementation, professional training, research agendas, and clinical practice. In one study, she explored how clinicians present the opportunity for prenatal genetic diagnosis to Latinas, and how those patients perceive and respond to the offer. In another, she examined how a group of genetic scientists conceptualize racial and ethnic variables in their work, and how these concepts both reflect and produce social constructs of racial and ethnic differences.
In one recently completed project, Dr. Hunt and her colleagues focused on how primary care clinicians and their patients understand and interpret the genetic and non-genetic implications of racial/ethnic identity in clinical care. They found that while there was general agreement among clinicians that race/ethnicity is an important factor for determining risk and selecting treatments for some conditions, there was little consensus about how race should be determined, whether health disparities were primarily due to genetic or socio-economic and cultural differences between racial/ethnic groups, and exactly how this information should be applied in clinical care. The patients interviewed for this study displayed a close congruence with the clinicians in their discussions of chronic illness causes, management strategies, and treatment goals, but they were unfamiliar with concepts of race/ethnicity as an indicator of disease risk and instead focused on income, health insurance, and diet as factors underlying disparities.
In other recent projects, Dr. Hunt has explored the efforts of low-income individuals to access health coverage, in the context of recent state and federal health care reform policies. She has also focused some of her analysis on critical concerns about the overreach of commercial interests in American clinical medicine, and the resulting heavy reliance on pharmaceuticals.
In her current research, Dr. Hunt (in collaboration with Dr. Heather Howard) is using ethnographic methods to examine how genomic concepts and discourse are incorporated into the management of chronic illness for ethnically diverse patients. By contrasting practitioner and patient perspectives in diabetes and weight management clinics, the study explores both ethical and practical dimensions of the clinical application of these innovations.
Dr. Hunt involves many graduate students in her research, and they often appear as co-authors on her publications.
Kreiner, M.J., & Hunt, L.M. (2014). The pursuit of preventive care for chronic illness: Turning healthy people into chronic patients. Sociology of Health & Illness. 36(6), 870–884.
Hunt, L.M., Kreiner, M.J., & Rodriguez-Mejia, F. (2013). Changing diagnostic and treatment criteria for chronic illness: A critical consideration of their impact on Hispanic patients. Human Organization, 72(3), 242-253.
Hunt, L.M., Truesdell, N and Kreiner, M.J. (2013) Race, Genes and Culture in Clinical Care: Racial Profiling in the Management of Chronic Illness. Medical Anthropology Quarterly Vol. 27, Issue 2, pp. 253–271.
Hunt, L.M. and Truesdell, N. (2013) Observations on the Tenacity of Racial Concepts in Genetics Research. IN Anthropology of Race: Genes Biology, and Culture. J. Haritigan, editor. Santa Fe, NM: SAR Press. Pp. 83-106.
Hunt, L.M., and Kreiner, M. (2013) Pharmacogenetics in Primary Care: The Promise of Personalized Medicine and the Reality of Racial Profiling. Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry: 37(1): 226-235.
Hunt, L.M., M. Kreiner, and H. Brody. (2012). The changing face of chronic illness management in primary care: a qualitative study of underlying influences and unintended outcomes. Annals of Family Medicine 10(5):452-60.
Hunt, L. M. & Megyesi, M. S. The ambiguous meanings of the racial/ethnic categories routinely used in human genetics research. Social Science & Medicine 66:2 (349-361). 2008.
Hunt, L.M, and M.S. Megyesi. Genes, Race and Research Ethics: Who’s Minding the Store? Journal of Medical Ethics 34: 495 500. 2008.
Hunt, LM. and KB de Voogd. Are good intentions good enough?: Informed consent without trained interpreters. Journal of General Internal Medicine 22:598–605. 2007.
Hunt, L. M., Castaneda, H. & de Voogd, K. B. Do Notions of Risk Inform Patient Choice?: Lessons from a Study of Prenatal Genetic Counseling. Medical Anthropology, 25(3): 193-219, 2006.
Hunt, L.M. and K.B. DeVoogd. Clinical Myths of the Cultural Other: Implications for Latino Patient Care. Academic Medicine 80(10):918-924, 2005.
Hunt, L.M, S. Schneider, B. Comer. Should “Acculturation” be a Variable in Health Research? A Critical Review of Research on U.S. Hispanics. Social Science and Medicine 59/5 pp. 973 986, 2004.
Sankar, P., Cho, M. K., Condit, C. M., Hunt, L. M., Koenig, B., Marshall, P. et al. Genetic research and health disparities. JAMA, 291, 2985 2989, 2004.
Hunt, L.M., N.H. Arar. An Analytical Framework for Contrasting Patient and Provider Views of the Process of Chronic Disease Management. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 15(3):1-21. 2001.