Medical Anthropology studies the relationship between medicine and culture. Examining social, political, linguistic, economic, and environmental factors, it works to better understand how cultural beliefs, practices, and institutions affect health and illness and how health and illness affect cultural beliefs, practices, and institutions.
Using various investigative methods from qualitative research (such as field observations, interviews, and narrative analysis) to bioarchaeological research (studying human remains and cultural artifacts for biological and chemical information about disease, nutrition, and medical practices), this field is particularly focused on how societies understand and describe health and illness and how social forces influence medical diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and classification.
Another valuable aspect of the field is in applying ethnographic and sociological methods to the cultures and institutions of health care itself - treating hospitals, clinics, laboratories, and classrooms as fieldwork opportunities to determine with an objective eye how social dynamics operate, how authority works, how information is distributed, and how patients are treated.
- Education: Training health care professionals in observational skills, cultural diversity, and social influences on health
- Research: Studying hospital and educational culture, culinary medicine, using qualitative methods to study health care disparities
- Clinical: Applying culinary medicine, grief management, determining cultural effects on treatment and diagnosis