Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Chronically ill people used Qigong to cope with anxiety and discrimination during the SARS outbreak

Oriental therapies can help chronically ill people stay strong and reduce stress levels during epidemics, according to research in the April issue of the UK-based Journal of Clinical Nursing.

Researchers have shown that people who practiced the Oriental art of Qigong – which combines gentle exercise with breathing techniques, meditation and visualisation – reaped considerable benefits during the SARS outbreak in Hong Kong.

It also helped them to cope with the stigmatisation and discrimination that developed against chronically ill people during the crisis, as they were seen as a high risk group with a much greater chance of being infected by, and dying from, the disease.

“We were already studying the health benefits of this very popular therapy when SARS – severe acute respiratory syndrome – hit Hong Kong” explains lead author Judy Yuen-man Siu, who carried out the research in the Department of Anthropology at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

“Chronically ill people, like the ones in our study, were particularly at risk during the outbreak, which affected 1,755 people in Hong Kong and killed 299. Because our study had already been established, we were able to extend it to monitor how people harnessed Qigong, which was used by many Hong Kong people during the crisis.”

The study looked at 98 people – mostly in their 40s to 50s - who had enrolled before the SARS outbreak and 70 who enrolled after the disease hit Hong Kong.

Three classes were observed for four months before the SARS crisis and for another four months during the outbreak.

All the participants – who were suffering from chronic health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, musculo-skeletal problems, cancers and kidney disease – continued practising during the outbreak. None were infected.

As well as observing the study participants by immersing herself in the day-to-day life of the groups, Siu carried out in-depth interviews with 30 of them to discover their motivation and experience of Qigong during the SARS outbreak.

There were five key reasons why people chose to engage in Qigong:

•Participants saw Qigong as the most “legitimate” of the alternative therapies available to them.

•It provided gentle exercise at a time when they were getting older and their health was deteriorating.

•They felt Qigong was more effective than biomedicine, especially when they saw little improvement in their condition using conventional methods.

•Qigong provided a way of coping with the emotional burden of being discriminated against during the SARS crisis, when chronically ill people were seen as a high risk group

•The alternative therapy made them feel more in control of their health during SARS because they felt they were doing something positive.

“Because there was no definitive medical treatment available during the SARS crisis, people had to take whatever steps they could to protect themselves and many turned to the alternative therapies that are such a big part of Chinese culture” explains Siu, who is currently based in the School of Population Health at the University of Queensland.

“This resulted in a significant rise in the number of people joining our three observations groups just after the outbreak. They told us that they had considered practising Qigong because of their health problems and the SARS outbreak was the trigger that motivated them to do something about it.”

As one new group member explained: “No remedies seem to have promising outcomes, so I think the best way is to rely on myself...At least I can do something actively for my health not just wait here and do nothing.”

Another stressed that practising Qigong sent a message to others that he was being responsible, at a time when a chronically ill person was seen as a “super virus spreader” and heavily discriminated against

Other comments included how peer support from other chronically ill people reduced isolation and feelings of discrimination and how Qigong, with its emphasis on breathing control, provided protection against SARS.

“As well as underlining the positive health and emotional benefits of Qigong, this study shows how chronically ill people can easily become scapegoats when there is a health crisis like SARS” concludes Siu.

“People turned to Qigong to improve their health and provide protection against SARS. But they also did it because they needed the social support of other chronically ill people and to find a way of coping with the emotional burdens of their illness at a very difficult time.

“We believe that this study provides a valuable insight into how chronically ill people cope in epidemic conditions and provides healthcare professionals with important pointers for dealing with the special needs of chronically ill people during future outbreaks.”

Annette Whibley | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia
21.10.2016 | Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg

nachricht New potential cancer treatment using microwaves to target deep tumors
12.10.2016 | University of Texas at Arlington

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>