Applied medical anthropologists consider both the sociocultural and the biological contexts and implications of disease and illness.
Perceptions of good and bad health, along with actual health threats and problems, differ among societies. Various ethnic groups percieve different illnesses, symptoms, and causes differently and have developed different health-care systems and treatment strategies. Medical anthropology studies these spatial variations, causalities and perceptions.
Medical Anthropology is a subfield of anthropology which studies socio-cultural, physigical, and linguistic anthropology to understand factors which influence health and well being, distribution of illness, the prevention and treatment of pathological conditions and disesases, healing processes, the social relations of therapy management, and the cultural importance and utilization of medical systems.
It is based on the application of bioscientific epidemiology, social construction of knowledge, politics of science and scientific discovery and hypothesis testing. Medical anthropologists mainly dwell into the health of individuals, larger social formations, the environment and its impact, the effect of interrelationships between humans and other species; cultural norms and social institutions; micro and macro politics; and forces of globalization as etc. The key areas of study are-
- Health impacts of ecological “adaptation and maladaptation”
- Regional health culture and domestic health care practices
- Ethnic interpretations of bodily processes
- Perceptions of risk, vulnerability and responsibility for illness and health care
- Risk and protective dimensions of human behavior, cultural norms and social institutions.
- Preventative health and harm reduction practices
- The experience of illness and the social relations of sickness
- The range of factors driving health, nutrition and health care transitions
- Ethnomedicine, pluralistic healing modalities, and healing processes
- The social organization of clinical interactions
- Disease distribution and health disparity
- The cultural and historical conditions shaping medical practices and policies
- Medical practices in the context of modernity, colonial, and post-colonial social formations
- The use and interpretation of pharmaceuticals and forms of biotechnology
- The commercialization and commodification of health and medicine
- Differential use and availability of government and private health care resources
- The political economy of health care provision.
- The political ecology of infectious and vector borne diseases, chronic diseases and states of malnutrition, and violence
- Anthropological Management of medical institutions and variations