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Medical anthropology

Medical anthropology is a sub-branch of cultural anthropology that is concerned with the appliation of anthropological and social science theories and methods to questions about health, illness and healing. Some medical anthropologists are trained primarily in anthropology as their main discipline, while others have studied anthropology after training and working in health or related professions such as medicine, nursing or psychology. Medical anthropologists conduct research in settings as diverse as rural villages and urban hospitals and clinics. They may teach medical anthropology in university anthropology departments, medical and nursing schools and in community-based settings.

Themes and questions in medical anthropology include:

  • Development of systems of medical knowledge and health care
  • Patient-practitioner relationships
  • Integrating alternative medical systems in culturally diverse environments
  • The interactions between biological, environmental and social factors influencing health and illness at both individual and community levels



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