Medical Anthropological Literature: a Knowledge Base of Medical Anthropology
It goes without saying the importance of understanding cultural diversity in the relationship doctor/patient, not only because it makes the field of medicine more humane, but also because it reduces mistakes and facilitates a more precisediagnosis, while lowering costs related to cultural issues.
According to Van Wieringen et al. (2002), mutual understanding between doctor and patient falls short if the doctor sees patients of a different ethnic background ( in 33% of the cases there is poor understanding) while for patients of similar ethnicity the number falls at 13% .Lack of understanding can implicate wrong diagnoses, (either positive or negative), and wrong prescriptions of drugs that can have lethal consequences.
In recent years the need to develop a better competence in cultural diversity has produced some form of training, but with very few significant results, given that cultural competency is too complex and impossible to achieve for lack of instruments to study the data, for the enormous amount of cultures and their diversities within each one of them. It would be ideal to have a knowledge base as a support instrument for all practitioners.
This knowledge base should at least include data on folk medicine, ethno -biology, costumes and traditions, all related to medical anthropology. This data can derive from: peer-reviewed medical scientific data (PUBMED), non medical scientific data (anthropological or ethnological material) , data available in the Social Web, and finally, data that relates to the personal experience of many doctors that are not in any web repository and should be included through a mechanism such as Wiki. Of course, the dimensions of such Knowledge base are enormous.
Project MEDALS intends to develop a multimedia knowledge base in Medicine and Culture that intends to:
1. Collect peer-reviewed medical and non-medical data (anthropological, ethnological, etc.).
2. Collect all information in the social web, deriving from patients and doctors.
3. Have a solid conceptual structure of ontologies in the OWL program.
4. Be consistent with Web Semantic 3.0.