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Ruth Kutalek
Ap.Prof. Priv.-Doz. Mag. Dr. Ruth KutalekHead of Unit

Center for Public Health (Department of Social and Preventive Medicine)
Position: Associate Professor

T +43 1 40160 34607


Anthropology, Medical

Research group(s)

  • Unit Medical Anthropology and Global Health
    Head: Ruth Kutalek
    Research Area: Research at the Unit focuses on the socio-cultural implications and perceptions of infectious diseases (Ebola viral disease, Lassa fever, measles, yellow fever), antimicrobial resistance (AMR), nutritional anthropology (e.g. geophagy), issues of access to health care for disadvantaged and vulnerable populations, mental health, representations of human bodies, human-animal-environment interactions, as well as anthropological perspectives in emergency response and humanitarian assistance.

Research interests

Anthropological perspectives on infectious diseases and epidemics: Ebola Virus Disease, Lassa fever, measles, Covid-19; psycho-social situation of survivors; health seeking behavior in times of crisis;

Social science informed disaster response: public participation/community engagement in disaster response; community distrust; vulnerable groups (e.g. people with disabilities, older people);

Trust and distrust in vaccines: the patient voice, vaccine saftey perceptions; vaccine hesitancy among health workers

Health care workers: occupational situation of health care workers during epidemics and crises; health care workers on the move (“brain drain”) 

Ethnopharmacology: geophagy (consumption of clay) and its implications for public health in Africa and Asia

Medical teaching: diversity and structural/transcultural competence; graphic medicine

Techniques, methods & infrastructure

Qualitative study designs (semi-structured and in-depth interviews; focus groups, participatory research), Media Analysis, Applied Social Science Methods; Analysis with the software atlas.ti, using different theoretical frameworks, such as feminist and socio-political approaches; after action reviews


Selected publications

  1. 2023 Kutalek R, Syed AM, Kaawa-Mafigiri D, Giles-Vernick T. Community engagement: Learning from low-income countries. The Lancet 401, Number 10390, May 27, 1767f. DOI:
  2. 2023 Wojczewski S, Grohma P, Kutalek R. Risk communication and community engagement with vulnerable groups: Perceptions of social-services CSOs during Covid-19. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 94, 103817;
  3. 2022 Jeleff M, Traugott M, Jirovsky-Platter E, Jordakieva G, Kutalek R. Occupational challenges of health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. A qualitative study. BMJ Open 12:e054516. doi:10.1136/ bmjopen-2021-054516
  4. 2021 Lehner L, Gribi J, Hoffmann K, Paul K, Kutalek R. Beyond the “information deficit model” - Understanding vaccine-hesitant attitudes of midwives in Austria: A Qualitative Study. BMC Public Health 21, 1671;
  5. 2020 Kutalek R, Baingana F, Sevalie S, Broutet N, Thorson A: Perceptions on the collection of body fluids for research on persistence of Ebola virus. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases