Dr. Sabrina Perlman, Medical Anthropology

Sabrina Perlman

Dr. Sabrina Perlman’s dissertation research took place over fourteen months in Kumasi, Ghana, where she was a participant observer, carried out interviews, and collected biomarker data from medical records in an urban public hospital’s diabetes clinic. Under the mentorship of Drs. Heather Howard and Masako Fujita, she produced a dissertation titled “Diabetes, Gender, and Poverty in Ghana”. Her dissertation tells the story of diabetes in Ghana through the voices of the clinic’s patients and healthcare providers contending with the challenges of self-management in a context of gender inequality and intersectionality of multiple disadvantages.

Dr. Perlman’s work significantly contributes to understanding the escalation of non-communicable disease in West Africa and globally through the anthropological lens of chronicity theory, which views systems of disadvantage as chronic conditions that exacerbate negative health outcomes. Her research provides perspective on the impacts of diabetes on patients’ ability to fulfill gendered expectations in the areas of sexuality and physical work, revealing how these result in distress and worsened economic states. Her focus on women’s experiences broadens understanding of female sexual dysfunction resulting from diabetic illness, and fills a gap in the literature which is almost exclusively focused on male complications and impacts on masculinities. Dr. Perlman’s research has important policy implications for chronic illness management in resource-poor environments.

Since graduating in 2020, Dr. Perlman has taken a position as Research Project Manager at Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine. In this role, she works with students and physician faculty members to develop research projects, encouraging their thinking about gender, race, class, disability, and other human conditions that intersect with health outcomes.

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