Medical Anthropology Research Group Seminars
Medical Anthropology Seminars (MARG): 'Poorly understood and poorly treated': An anthropological investigation of 'functional' disease
3 March 2010 12:30 in Anthropology Seminar Room (D104), Dawson Building
Chronic constipation, also known as functional constipation, idiopathic constipation or constipation-predominant irritable bowel syndrome, is a disease that is poorly understood and treated medically. This study was conducted in one of the only two clinics in England that specialize in the treatment of this disease. The clinic is innovative in that it takes a biopsychosocial approach to patient-care. However, staff feel that not all patients are open to this approach and are unsure of how best to provide it. This study sought to understand the effect this disease has on peoples' lives and the ways in which they have experienced their healthcare via 21 in-depth open ended interviews with 11 patient-participants, interviews with all four members of staff, participant-observation during consultations at the clinic and a focus-group with patient-participants over the course of 5 months of field work. I will present two published perspectives on the topic of "functional" disease and their treatment. One which argues that a psychological approach is most appropriate ( a physician's) and the other which calls for a greater focus on discovering the physiological basis and cure of these poorly understood conditions (a patient's). Based on findings from my research and the insight of these two perspectives and other literature I will theorize on why a biopsychosocial approach to care is problematic for patients and healthcare professionals alike.
Please note the slightly later start time of 12.30!!!
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Seminars will continue next academic year. If you would like to be included on the MARG mailing list to receive information on these and other announcements, please contact Vicki McGowan