Medical anthropology involves a number of important theoretical approaches, using the tools and resources that are available in today’s healthcare environment to accomplish a variety of objectives. Brown and Barrett’s analysis of medical anthropology is comprehensive because it offers theoretical approaches to solving practical and complex healthcare problems using collaboration and resources in an effective manner. Case studies and examples support the authors’ primary objective to educate others regarding multiculturalism and health status, using common terms associated with chronic illness, life expectancy, and various disease conditions (Brown and Barrett).
The authors consider a number of approaches, but the most interesting is the ethnomedical perspective. In many communities, there is disconnect between healthcare providers and their patients, particularly in reference to chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension (Brown and Barrett). This is an interesting problem because it continues to expand with the continued growth of minority populations such as Hispanics, who are quickly emerging as one of the majority groups in the United States (Brown and Barrett). Evaluating this approach is critical to the success of modern healthcare practice and is most interesting because many of these individuals and families either do not have adequate access to healthcare resources or are uncomfortable with the healthcare system because they utilize traditional healing methods rather than modern treatments, such as pharmacologic agents and advanced testing (Brown and Barrett). This problem continues to grow in close-knit urban communities where pockets of cultural exclusivity are present, thereby creating a significant barrier between traditional beliefs and customs and modern treatments (Brown and Barrett). It is important for clinicians to provide optimal care and treatment to patients who speak different languages, but the concept of “communicative competence” is sorely lacking in many communities and must be enhanced on a widespread basis (Gregg and Saha 368). This will enable healthcare providers to bridge some of the gaps associated with healthcare practice and education in many communities through improved training and education regarding cultural sensitivity, customs, and needs (Gregg and Saha 368).
Brown, Peter, and Ron Barrett. Understanding and Applying Medical Anthropology. McGraw- Hill, 2009.
Gregg, Jessica, and Somnath Saha. “Communicative Competence: A Framework for Understanding Language Barriers in Health Care.” Journal of General Internal Medicine 22.Suppl 2 (2007): 368-370.