Epidemiology and Culture

Epidemiology and Culture

Published by: Cambridge University Press 2005

This book shows how practitioners in the emerging field of “cultural epidemiology” describe human health, communicate with diverse audiences, and intervene to improve health and prevent disease. It uses textual and statistical portraits of disease to describe past and present collaborations between anthropology and epidemiology. Interpreting epidemiology as a cultural practice helps to reveal the ways in which measurement, causal thinking, and intervention design are all influenced by belief, habit, and theories of power. By “unpacking” many common disease risks and epidemiologic categories, this book reveals unexamined assumptions and shows how sociocultural context influences measurement of disease. Examples include studies of epilepsy, cholera, mortality on the Titanic, breastfeeding, and adolescent smoking.

The book describes methods as varied as observing individuals, measuring social networks, and compiling data from death certificates. It argues that effective public health interventions must work more often and better at the level of entire communities.

James A. Trostle is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of Urban Initiatives at Trinity College, Hartford. He has worked in more than 20 countries during his career in international health, and he has been invited to lecture in many others. He has co-authored, in Spanish, De la Investigaci´on en Salud a la Pol´ıtica: La Dif´ıcil Traducci´on (From Health Research to Policy: The Difficult Translation). He has published in Health, Policy and Planning; Neurology; The Annual Review of Anthropology; Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry; Medical Anthropology Quarterly; and, most frequently, in Social Science and Medicine. Professor Trostle has been a Temporary Advisor to the World Health Organization, and currently he sits on a WHO Task Force on Research to Policy as well as on the WHO Human Reproduction Programme Regional Advisory Panel for the Americas.

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