Prevention of Disease and the Absent Body: A Phenomenological Approach to Periodontitis

Dylan Rakhra (Coresponding Author), Māra Grīnfelde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A large part of the contemporary phenomenology of medicine has been devoted to accounts of health and illness, arguing that they contribute to the improvement of health care. Less focus has been paid to the issue of prevention of disease and the associated difficulty of adhering to health-promoting behaviours, which is arguably of equal importance. This article offers a phenomenological account of this disease prevention, focusing on how we-as embodied beings-engage with health-promoting behaviours. It specifically considers how we engage with oral hygiene regimens to prevent periodontitis and why we are not good at it. The article suggests that poor adherence to health-promoting behaviours can be explained with reference to the concept of the absent body, because prevention of disease is generally concerned with pre-symptomatic illness experience. The final section contains a discussion of some strategies for the improvement of disease prevention based on this viewpoint.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299–311
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Medicine and Philosophy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2023


  • Prevention
  • absent body
  • illness
  • periodontitis
  • Phenomenology

Field of Science*

  • 6.3 Philosophy, Ethics and Religion
  • 3.3 Health sciences
  • 6.5 Other humanities

Publication Type*

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


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