Medical Anthropology

What is Medical Anthropology?

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Medical anthropology is an interdisciplinary field focusing on the ways individuals, groups, and society are influenced by issues of health, health care, and health care policy. The discipline examines social, cultural, and biological factors which influence health and well being, the experience and distribution of illness, the prevention and treatment of sickness, and healing processes.

According to the Society for Medical Anthropology Website, Medical anthropologists study such issues as:

  • The cultural and historical conditions shaping medical practices and policies
  • The social organization of clinical interactions
  • Popular health culture and domestic health care practices
  • Perceptions of risk, vulnerability and responsibility for illness and health care
  • Risk and protective dimensions of human behavior, cultural norms and social institutions
  • Preventive 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

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Catherine Robilio Womack, MD
Interim Chair
Department of
Preventive Medicine
66 N. Pauline Street, Suite 633
Memphis, TN 38163
Phone: (901) 448-5900