Efficacious Holidays: The Therapeutic Dimensions of Pleasure and Discipline in Czech Respiratory Spas

Med Anthropol Q. 2018 Mar;32(1):42-58. doi: 10.1111/maq.12403. Epub 2017 Dec 11.


As evidence-based medicine has increasingly become the standard for assessing the efficacy of health care, the Czech Republic finds itself in a dilemma, with centuries of sanatorium-style spa treatments resisting easy categorization. Despite some critics' contentions that spas are "pointless holidays" and reductions in government funding of health spas, in 2014 Czech courts affirmed every Czech citizen's right to spa treatments if their health status merits it. Drawing on research in two children's respiratory spas, this article considers the experiences of patients aged 2-15 and their accompanying parents or guardians (mainly mothers) to suggest that in addition to the range of therapeutic procedures highlighted within spa cures, more amorphous aspects-such as pleasure and discipline-may be just as central to spas' successes. Indeed, as some spa physicians contend, spas may be considered a "package deal," to which EBM criteria is not easily applied.

Keywords: Czech Republic; EBM; efficacy; health spas; pleasure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anthropology, Medical
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Czech Republic
  • Female
  • Holidays
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pleasure*
  • Rehabilitation Centers*
  • Treatment Outcome*