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Medical anthropology and the physician assistant profession

Henry, Lisa R. PhD

Journal of the American Academy of PAs: January 2015 - Volume 28 - Issue 1 - p 53–57
doi: 10.1097/01.JAA.0000453863.62323.ef
Special Article

ABSTRACT Medical anthropology is a subfield of anthropology that investigates how culture influences people's ideas and behaviors regarding health and illness. Medical anthropology contributes to the understanding of how and why health systems operate the way they do, how different people understand and interact with these systems and cultural practices, and what assets people use and challenges they may encounter when constructing perceptions of their own health conditions. The goal of this article is to highlight the methodological tools and analytical insights that medical anthropology offers to the study of physician assistants (PAs). The article discusses the field of medical anthropology; the advantages of ethnographic and qualitative research; and how medical anthropology can explain how PAs fit into improved health delivery services by exploring three studies of PAs by medical anthropologists.

Lisa R. Henry is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of North Texas in Denton, Tex. Portions of this research were supported by the Physician Assistant Education Association and the American Academy of Physician Assistants. The author has disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise

© 2015 American Academy of Physician Assistants.
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