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Social Psychology and Anthropology in Public Health Practice - Assignment Example

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They help public health practitioners develop and implement effective programs that target specific populations. Therefore understanding these concepts is extremely important for public health practitioners. …
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Social Psychology and Anthropology in Public Health Practice
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Download file to see previous pages Social Psychology
Social psychology is the “scientific study of how people think about, influence, and relate to one another” (Myers, 2006, p. 4). It bridges the gap between psychology and sociology and examines human behavior as the result of interaction between the mental states and immediate social situations. It underscores the fact that beliefs, attitudes, and practices endorsed by a group to which an individual belongs determine their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors even when they are away from other group members.
Some of the major concepts of social psychology include group behavior, social perception, leadership, non-verbal behavior, conformity, aggression, and prejudice. All of these concepts are especially important when it comes to public health practice.
One example of social psychology impacting public health practice is in the area of stigma and prejudices. This can be seen prominently in developing countries like India, where there is tremendous stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. The disease is primarily spread through heterosexual contact and is prevalent among prostitutes and injecting drug users. The disease is also prevalent among homosexuals. Stigma and discrimination make it extremely difficult for individuals belonging to these vulnerable groups to access healthcare, even if they actively seek it. Studies have revealed that prostitutes rarely use condoms or other protective measures and are at high risk of infection. Similarly, homosexuality is highly stigmatized and not openly talked about. Due to the stigma associated with the homosexual population, it has also been very difficult to survey this group. Officials at the Department of AIDS Control (2010) fear that the prevalence rates are higher than what is recorded in the official records. Initially, public health practitioners found it very challenging to create awareness about the disease and educate this population about taking preventive measures and seeking early treatment. However, more recently, they have been able to develop a best practice model which involves training prostitutes and homosexuals about sexually transmitted diseases like HIV so that they can educate their peers about the importance of having safe sex. This strategy was implemented in the city of Kolkata in India and is credited with reducing the prevalence rate of HIV among prostitutes from 11% in 2001 to less than 4% in 2004 (UNAIDS, 2005). Considering these social factors helped public health practitioners develop targeted programs for this population. Anthropology Anthropology is defined as “the scientific study of the origin, the behavior, and the physical, social, and cultural development of humans” (Molik, 2012, para 1). It is a broad science dealing with the relationship of individuals in and to the society. Some of the major concepts of anthropology include social organization, cultural beliefs, and practices. All of these concepts are especially important when it comes to public health practice. Cultural and social boundaries have often been found to separate public health practitioners from the people they serve. Understanding the concepts of anthropology is helpful in designing socially effective programs. Awareness of anthropological concepts and methods are therefore helpful to understand and resolve diverse public health problems. Example One example where anthropology impacts public health pra ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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