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June 2024

J Ethnopharmacol. 1993 Mar; 38(2-3): 93-104.

Anthropological methods in ethnopharmacology.

Etkin NL.

Department of Anthropology, University of Hawaii, Honolulu 96822.

This paper reviews anthropological methods in ethnopharmacology to advance a critical and biobehavioral perspective for the construction of primary data in the light of indigenous paradigms of health and therapeutics. The unique contributions of anthropology are the conceptual and practical tools that allow one to develop the ethnography of plant use in sufficient depth to correlate with laboratory and clinical investigations of plant constituents and activities. This serves an ethnopharmacology that links bioscientific research to traditional empirical knowledge. Specific methods discussed include: key respondents, participant observation, focus groups, structured and unstructured interviews, survey instruments and questionnaires, lexical and semantic studies, and discourse and content analysis. The accommodation of rapid ethnographic techniques for ethnopharmacologic research is described, and several problem orientations based on assessments of efficacy are offered.

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