The challenge of cross-cultural clinical trials research: case report from the Tibetan Autonomous Region, People's Republic of China

Med Anthropol Q. 2005 Sep;19(3):267-89. doi: 10.1525/maq.2005.19.3.267.


Efforts to conduct Western clinical research in non-Western medical settings with little or no familiarity with such methodologies are on the rise, but documented accounts of the ways that biomedical science requires negotiation and translation across cultures are not plentiful. This article adds to this literature through analysis of an NICHD-funded collaborative research effort in women's health carried out in the Tibetan Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China. The research involved a feasibility study for an eventual clinical trial comparing Tibetan medicine with misoprostol for preventing postpartum hemorrhage in delivering women. It explores strategies of negotiation and translation in and around notions of the scientific method, informed consent procedures, randomization, blinding, placebo, and concepts of medical standardization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic*
  • Culture*
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent
  • Medicine, Tibetan Traditional
  • National Library of Medicine (U.S.)
  • Patients / psychology
  • Random Allocation
  • Tibet / ethnology
  • United States
  • Women's Health / ethnology