Patients' Superstitions In Japan Are Costing The Health Service

December 17, 1998

(Influence of superstition on the date of hospital discharge and medical cost in Japan: retrospective and descriptive study)

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The superstition of some patients in Japan about 'lucky' and 'unlucky' days influence when they leave hospitals and may be contributing to higher medical care costs, suggest Dr Kenji Hira and colleagues from Kyoto University in Japan, in this week's BMJ. Belief in Taian-Butsumetsu, which is superstition relating to the six day lunar calender, is common among Japanese people (Taian is a day of good fortune and Butsumetsu means bad luck). The authors found that significantly more patients were discharged on lucky days, in particular older patients and especially women.

Hira et al conclude that although hospital stays need to be kept as short as possible to minimise costs, doctors should not ignore the possible psychological effects on patients' health caused by ignoring their superstitions.


Dr Kenji Hira, Postgraduate Student, Department of General Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology, Kyoto University, Japan

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