Anthropological Contributions to the Study of Cholera

Those with power were expected to take action against cholera. Those without power were the likely victims. Each had a choice of action, quarantine, cleansing, medical provision, prayer or just doing nothing on the one hand, and flight, anger, alarm, obedience to regulations, or just doing nothing on the other. Values emerged in choices between life and property, between work and safety, between charitable action and government agencies. (Morris 1976 18-19, on the 1832 cholera epidemic in...

Patterns of Disease and Patterns of Culture

Human reactions to disease also create patterns. Imagine a Peruvian fisherman who ate contaminated shellfish in January 1991, contracted cholera, and died. Individuals in his town gathered to wash the body and to mourn the deceased. They drank and ate together, finding companionship. But some of the participants were exposed to cholera in the shared water. Their travels after the funeral changed the likelihood of exposure for many others, and the number of people they saw and the activities...

The Community in Public Health Interventions

The Difference between Intervening with Individuals and Populations One of the most important ideas in the development of community interventions is that sustained attention must be devoted to the determinants of disease incidence in populations. This idea has best been championed by the British epidemiologist Geoffrey Rose. In 1985 Rose explored the difference between thinking about the causes and prevention of disease in specific individuals as compared with the causes and prevention of...

Popular and Professional Ideas about Risk

Medicine Clinical Epidemiology Cartoons

Anthropological research on classification and knowledge production can help shed light on this problem. In addition to their descriptions of disease burden, epidemiologists and other public health scientists produce public messages about one key topic risk. Risk is the rhetorical vehicle Figure 7.1. Medical news cartoon. Borgman, J. The Cincinnati Inquirer, 1997. Reprinted with special permission of King Features Syndicate. Figure 7.1. Medical news cartoon. Borgman, J. The Cincinnati Inquirer,...

Communicating about Risk Menace and Safety

Anthropologists have spent a fair amount of time analyzing and critiquing epidemiological concepts of risk and perceived risk (DiGiacomo 1999, Gifford 1986, Nations 1986). In an important study of the social impact and cultural meanings of prenatal diagnosis, anthropologist Rayna Rapp interviewed a broad variety of groups involved in developing, collecting, assessing, and deciding what to do with the results of prenatal tests, including pregnant women who accepted or refused the tests,...

Introduction

When I awake in foreign hotels late at night with jet lag, I sometimes turn on the television. This often is the best time to watch for official government messages about how to avoid malnutrition, AIDS, malaria, diarrhea, or a host of other modern plagues. Campaigns like these to increase health and reduce disease are an increasingly important part of public health work, although their appearance at 3 A.M. belies their importance relative to other shows and advertisements on television. Where...

The Origins and Meanings of Disease Pattern Categories

It is an epidemiological axiom that data can be reported according to categories labeled person, place, and time. A popular text from the 1980s, Lilienfeld and Lilienfeld's Foundations of Epidemiology, begins this way Epidemiology is concerned with the patterns of disease occurrence in human populations and the factors that influence these patterns. The epidemiologist is primarily interested in the occurrence of disease by time, place, and persons (1980 3). What characteristics do scientists...

Epidemiology and Medical Anthropology

Both epidemiology and medical anthropology are scientific disciplines that search for patterns of disease and behavior. They both have humanity at their core. The disciplines are separated by history and tradition -epidemiology tends to be statistical and quantitative, anthropology textual and qualitative, but this book brings them together. My vision of an integrated and interdisciplinary dialogue has been created, and is shared, by many like-minded anthropologists and epidemiologists who...

Applying an Integrated Cultural Epidemiological Approach

Culture influences the patterning of disease through many pathways, ranging from who is counted to what is noticed to where people obtain help for suffering. Its influence can be seen in the varying ways parents try to protect their children from the common cold, as well as in the differential power of epidemiology across nations. More complete understanding of the range of cultural influences on disease patterning will come as more frequent and profound interactions take place between the...