The complete presentation, COVID-19 and Underserved Populations in Michigan, is available online.
The relationship between Anthropology and diseases goes all the way back to the beginning of the field of study; not only does Anthropology play a huge role in understanding the intertwining mechanisms of disease and culture, but it also shows how infectious diseases play out within these cultures and how the course of treatment plays out.
Now before I begin talking about what I did in my research, I’m going to give a brief introduction and some background knowledge of what I based my research questions off of. First, our daily lives have a lot of aspects governed under the field of anthropology. These implementations are more and more being implemented into the medical field. This was shown in previous research done that proves that understanding a patient’s cultural backgrounds from an anthropological aspect and treating them using means that better fit their lifestyles, for example diseases like malaria were slowly being treated and better cared for in countries in Africa. Since COVID-19 was a new strain of virus that has never been studied before, it was difficult to understand how the disease compared to other strains of viruses. No previous research existed on how the virus played out its course, who got infected, who was immune, and what symptoms existed and how did it differ from one person to the other. These previous research projects pave the road for my questions on how different cultures that are considered underserved in Michigan battled COVID-19 and if their diverse cultural backgrounds had a role in their treatment.
The methods used to conduct my research was broken down into two attempts. The first attempt was to conduct a survey on a social media application like Instagram and collect information like treatment approach in handling COVID 19 and how confident the patients and participants were with their healing methods; Especially if it included any remedies that they have learned from their diverse backgrounds.
Due to the lack of data collected in the first attempt through the survey, an interview was conducted with a patient in Michigan who grew up overseas and information like how they dealt with COVID-19 and what worked and what didn’t work for them was collected. Throughout both attempts, participants confidentiality was promised and no personal information that can be traced back to one particular participant was collected.
As for the results of the first attempt, they were more or less divided. Almost all participants followed the CDC guidelines that were posted online while half of these participants also used homemade remedies that they claim to have helped in the healing process. Most of these remedies included green tea which from previous research is known to be an important antiviral.
As far as the results for the second attempt go, the patient noted that the pain relievers like Tylenol didn’t alleviate most of the patient’s symptoms. The patient also followed the CDC guidelines and quarantined and was socially distant from everyone they knew. The patient also consumed a lot of liquids primarily warm tea mixed with ginger powder which they claim to have cleared up their sinuses and helped with the body aches. The patient then concluded that they preferred their own homemade remedies in dealing with COVID-19 as opposed to strictly using over the counter medications.
For the conclusions, it is safe to say that although guidelines posted by the CDC are helpful for the planet as a whole, a lot of people found relief using homemade remedies as well. Patients should also not be generalized into one category. And each patient should have their treatment tailored to fit their lifestyles and put their cultural background into consideration.
Finally, anthropology should be used in understanding and communicating with a patient to better build a powerful connection between the patient and their physician so that the healing process is quick, smooth, and efficient. In conclusion, although this isn’t a great representation of what effects diverse cultures have on diseases due to the limited participant pool, but this is a great representation of how future large-scale studies should look like, which makes a perfect study to better understand how cultural anthropology affects illnesses and treatment habits.
1. Awale, Sonia, and Ramesh Kumar. The COVID-19 Plastic Pandemic. , 2020. SIRS Issues Researcher, https://explore-proquest-com.lcc.idm.oclc.org/sirsissuesresearcher/document/2444438649?accountid=1599.
2. Blauer, Beth, and Jennifer Nuzzo. “Standards for Covid Testing.” New York Times, 24 Nov 2020. SIRS Issues Researcher, https://explore-proquest-com.lcc.idm.oclc.org/sirsissuesresearcher/document/2467295505?accountid=1599