There is a large body of research that confirms the diverse cultural backgrounds of patients in the United States, and their beliefs and expectations about medical treatment. Anthropological pioneer Arthur Rubel studied disease in Mexican-American populations to illustrate the differences in patients’ beliefs in regards to medicine throughout the United States. Further, the studies by Stronks and Galvez, and Good and Good show a strong need for culturally competent care in a changing medical environment. This study is an analysis of complementary and alternative medical practices in traditional biomedical hospital settings in six outpatient clinics around the United States. This study utilizes Farmer’s theory of structural violence and his critique of cultural relativism, Kleinman’s theory of The Explanatory Models Approach to culturally competent care, and Appadurai’s theory of various “scapes” and the movement of these scapes throughout different culture, marking a permeability of boundaries. In-depth interviews and on-site observation revealed that what physicians and other clinicians refer to as mind body practice is essential to a holistic approach of medicine. This study also demonstrates there is a lack of cultural competency training and care within these settings, in contrast to stated goals of the practice of integrative medicine. These results suggest implications for a global health model that accounts for the needs and expectations of patients of all cultures.


Tierney, Thomas


Sociology and Anthropology


Alternative and Complementary Medicine


complementary medicine, alternative medicine, integrative medicine

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2015 Emma Gorin