Medical Definition of Ethnography

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Reviewed on 10/30/2018

Ethnography: The study of specific human cultures. The branch of anthropology that deals with the scientific description of human cultures. Ethnography sprang from social anthropology and first focused on small communities that shared culturally specific beliefs and practices.

Ethnography is applicable to health care. For example, ethnography can examine how health care is influenced by the culture of the patient and how ethnocentric beliefs on the part of health professionals may impede care.

From the French ethnographie, from ethno- (from the Greek ethnos, race, people) + -graphie (from the Greek graphein, to write) = literally, to write (about) a people.

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Reviewed on 10/30/2018