This subject explores how anthropology can contribute to a better understanding of the cultural and social aspects in the experience of health, illness and the practices related to healing. It tries to show how anthropology can facilitate some effective applications in addressing cultures’ impact on health, help to develop cultural competence in health care and improve personal strategies for the adaptation to intercultural relations.
Firstly, it aims to introduce the principal features of socio-cultural anthropology and some of its key topics, concepts and themes: What is Anthropology? What does it mean to be an anthropologist? What do anthropologists do? What is ethnography? What is culture? How should we observe, understand, interpret, and represent the culture and the lived world of people? How do social, cultural and historical aspects shape people’s lives? How is ethnographic fieldwork carried out and what are the main implications and difficulties of such work?
Secondly, the subject introduces main concepts of medical anthropology and the study of human health and illness as culturally situated. It explores in what way medical anthropology offers a holistic perspective of health and illness, and it provides an understanding about cultural and social factors relating to the illness experience and the healing practices.
Thirdly, the subject offers a view of qualitative methods in heath and provides information about every step of the process in qualitative research, the techniques of data collection and analysis as well as the purposes and value of this kind of research. A qualitative perspective helps us understand perceptions, attitudes and decisions regarding issues of health and explore people in their daily activities, interactions and contexts, taking into account sociocultural, political and economic factors related to health.