Tairyoku as a belief system of health and illness: a study of cancer patients in Japan
Anthropology & Medicine, 15, (3), . (doi:10.1080/13648470802357570).
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The aim of this paper is to investigate the concept of tairyoku (body power) within the context of palliative care in contemporary Japan, and to explore its use by cancer patients at palliative care units (PCUs). Tairyoku is thought to be vital energy, analogous to qi in Chinese Medicine. In this paper it is shown that tairyoku is used to monitor bodily condition by patients and that it plays an important role in treatment decision-making for them. Medical professionals also use the word tairyoku; however, they do not agree with the patients' idea of increasing tairyoku in order to cure cancer. This situation causes disagreement about treatment between patients and medical staff at PCUs; however, this paper will show that tairyoku is the important concept to help patients manage their illness and sustain their autonomy, and finally accept imminent death.
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