Action anthropology in a free clinic

Amaus Student Researchers on this project included

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


In this article, we describe a mixed methods study in a free clinic for uninsured, impoverished, and medically vulnerable persons in Syracuse, New York. Our model, Community Action Research and Education, draws on Action Anthropology, as developed by Sol Tax, in which faculty, students, and community members work together to develop and conduct the research. The study includes a quantitative review of 600 patients' charts and two rounds of qualitative patient interviews on health literacy and life history. The findings indicate that the patients had higher than expected education. For many, the consequences of mental illness and substance dependence led to job loss, incarceration, homelessness, and burning bridges with family members. This study provides information for policymakers in light of the present challenges to the Affordable Care Act. In addition, the study provided data for the clinic administrators to use in funding requests and fine-tuning their services. Students benefitted as well by learning anthropological research skills while working collaboratively with community members.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)336-347
Number of pages12
JournalHuman Organization
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017


  • Action anthropology
  • Free clinic
  • Health disparities
  • Health insurance
  • Health literacy
  • Life history

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences


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