In recent years, the medical field has emphasized the novel concept of evidence based medicine (EBM). This concept is especially pertinent to shiatsu, and we at the Shiatsu Society of Japan are working to put it into practice.

However, some feel that EBM may not be the most effective approach for all patients. Even if the efficacy ratio is 60-90%, this means that there exist 10-40% of patients for whom it is not working. Studies also bring to light cases where EBM cannot be applied, such as disorders for which insufficient evidential data exist, disorders that resist treatment, and illness with a psychological component.

This has lead some practicing physicians in the United Kingdom, where EBM has been implemented, to advocate for a new concept called narrative-based medicine (NBM). This clinical approach involves treating the patient globally (physically, emotionally/ psychologically, and socially), based on a ‘narrative’ obtained through dialog with the patient regarding the causes, conditions, and their current feelings surrounding their illness, enabling health care providers to respond to the patient’s needs based on an understanding of the background and human interrelationships surrounding the disease. NBM, which places emphasis on establishing dialog and a relationship of mutual trust with the patient, is being looked on to close the gap between the science of medicine and the art of human interaction. NBM is precisely the clinical method that shiatsu therapists have always employed, and the current trend is evidence that the world has opened its eyes to this approach. EBM and NBM represent the dual approaches of science and art that are indispensable to providing the patient-centered medical care that will truly respond to patents’ needs.

Dr. Hiroshi Ishizuka
Shiatsu Society of Japan