Coping with future epidemics: Tai chi practice as an overcoming strategy used by survivors of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in post-SARS Hong Kong

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Although SARS had been with a controversial topic for a decade at the time of this study, numerous SARS survivors had not yet physically, psychologically or socially recovered from the aftermath of SARS. Among chronically ill patients, the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is reported to be widespread. However, extremely little is known about the use of CAM by SARS survivors in the post-SARS period and even less is known about how the use of CAM is related to the unpleasant social and medical-treatment experiences of SARS survivors, their eagerness to re-establish social networks, and their awareness to prepare for future epidemics. Objective: To investigate the motivations for practising tai chi among SARS survivors in post-SARS Hong Kong. Design, setting and participants: Using a qualitative approach, I conducted individual semi-structured interviews with 35 SARS survivors, who were purposively sampled from a tai chi class of a SARS-patient self-help group in Hong Kong. Results: Health concerns and social experiences motivated the participants to practise tai chi in post-SARS Hong Kong. Experiencing health deterioration in relation to SARS-associated sequelae, coping with unpleasant experiences during follow-up biomedical treatments, a desire to regain an active role in recovery and rehabilitation, overcoming SARS-associated stigmas by establishing a new social network and preparing for potential future stigmatization and discrimination were the key motivators for them. Conclusion: The participants practised tai chi not only because they sought to improve their health but also because it provided a crucial social function and meaning to them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)762-772
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Expectations
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016


  • Tai chi
  • Hong Kong
  • Overcoming strategy
  • Post-SARS
  • SARS survivors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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