This thesis explores the medical culture of the Amish in relation to two predominant medical systems: allopathic and alternative medicine. The primary research question focuses on how the Amish negotiate the tension between allopathic and alternative medicine as examined through the lens of the practitioners who serve the Amish. This goal of a 'middle ground' approach to medicine is assessed through the lens of authoritative knowledge, efficacy, and culture-specific interpretations of mind-body dualism theories. These theories were supported by two data collection methods: 1) thirteen in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with alternative and biomedical practitioners currently residing in Northeast Ohio. 2) Extensive content analysis of seven issues of the weekly Amish newspaper, The Budget, from 1950-2010. From these methodologies, the desire to find a middle ground source of medical care emerged as the overarching theme, influenced by personally and culturally designated medical authorities and efficacy qualifications. The unique nature of Amish culture revealed that chiropractors are capable of addressing medical concerns with allopathic or alternative treatments and all the other needs of the Amish patients. These practitioners efficaciously serve as the medical authority for both medical systems, as is supported by the results. Suggestions for future research are included, as well as in-depth records of the data collected from The Budget (see Appendix A).


Mariola, Matt


Sociology and Anthropology


Medicine and Health


amish medical culture

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2011 Sarah Uschak