Oh B, et al. Effect of medical Qigong on cognitive function, quality of life, and a biomarker of inflammation in cancer patients: a randomized controlled trial. Support Care Cancer. 2012;20:1235-1242.
A total of 81 cancer patients were randomly assigned to either a 10-week medical qigong program in addition to usual care (intervention), or usual care (control). Quality of life (QoL), cognitive function, and inflammation as measured by the presence of C-reactive protein (CRP) were assessed for all patients before and after the 10-week period. Patients in the intervention group who completed the study had significantly lower CRP levels and significantly higher QoL and cognitive function scores than their control-group counterparts. Even though much of the data from this study relies on self-report, with the exception of CRP levels, it does suggest a significant role for qigong in the lives of cancer patients, where there is a high incidence of self-reported cognitive dysfunction during and after treatment.
Lynch M, et al. A randomized controlled trial of qigong for fibromyalgia. Arthritis Res Ther. 2012;14:R178.
This randomized controlled trial evaluated a standardized qigong practice used by 100 patients with fibromyalgia. Immediate or delayed practice groups took qigong training for 3 half-days, followed by weekly review and practice sessions for 8 weeks. During this time, participants were also asked to practice at home for 45 to 60 minutes daily. Outcomes recorded at baseline, Week 8, and Months 4 and 6 were pain, impact, sleep, and physical and mental functioning. Qigong demonstrated significant improvements in pain, impact, sleep, and physical and mental functioning for both immediate and delayed-practice groups when compared with the wait-listed/usual care control group at Week 8, with benefits extending beyond this time. There were also significant changes for all measures at all times except mental functioning at Month 4. Post-hoc analysis of self-reported practice indicated a greater benefit with the per-protocol group compared with minimal practice. This study provided reproducible outcomes and demonstrated that regular qigong can provide long-term benefits in several core domains in fibromyalgia and may be a useful adjuvant self-care treatment for this condition.
Tsang HW, et al. Psycho-physical and neurophysiological effects of qigong on depressed elders with chronic illness. Aging Ment Health. 2012 Oct 16. [Epub ahead of print]
In this randomized controlled trial, the psychological, physical, and neurophysiological effects of a 12-week qigong exercise program on depressed elders with chronic medical illness were examined. The intervention group (n=21) received a total of 36 sessions (3 times weekly for 45 minutes using the Eight-Section Brocades protocol for 2–3 cycles with short breaks in between. Each cycle lasted ~ 10–15 minutes and was considered easy to learn). A comparison group (n=17) was provided with a research assistant for the same duration and frequency who read news articles aloud and led subsequent discussions on the article topics presented. Considered a good comparison activity by experts and often provided in geriatric settings, this comparison activity also served to neutralize the attention given by therapists to the intervention group. At 12 weeks, the qigong group had a significant reduction in depressive symptoms and improvements in self-efficacy, self-concept of physical well-being, and right-hand grip strength, but not cortisol levels vs the comparison group. This trial offers some preliminary evidence that regular qigong practice produces an antidepressive effect.
Chan AW, et al. Tai chi Qigong improves lung functions and activity tolerance in COPD clients: a single blind, randomized controlled trial. Complement Ther Med. 2011;19:3-11.
This single-blind, randomized controlled trial evaluated a blended practice of tai chi qigong (TCQ) on enhancing respiratory functions and activity tolerance in 206 patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Patients were randomly assigned to TCQ (two 60-min sessions weekly for 3 months), regular exercise (breathing techniques combined with walking), or control (instructed to maintain their usual activities). Measurements of lung function, a 6-min walk test, and COPD exacerbation rate were performed at baseline, Week 6, and Month 3. At 3 months, there were significant changes for forced vital capacity (p=.002), forced expiratory volume in 1 second (p<.001), walking distance (p<.001), and exacerbation rate (p=.006), with no changes observed in the exercise group and a decline in lung functions for the control group. Further there was a high compliance rate and desire among participants in the TCQ group to continue practice. Future studies with extended followup could help to determine additional improvements in physiological and psychosocial status with TCQ in this population.
Oh B, et al. Impact of medical Qigong on quality of life, fatigue, mood and inflammation in cancer patients: a randomized controlled trial. Ann Oncol. 2010;21:608-614.
In this study, 162 patients with malignant cancer were randomly assigned to a 10-week program of two 90-minute qigong sessions per week in addition to usual care, or a control group that only received usual care. Participants were also encouraged to practice at home daily for at least 30 minutes. The program was modified from a traditional qigong practice to specifically target the needs of cancer patients with respect to aid in the control of emotions and stress and to improve physical function. Quality of life (QoL), fatigue, mood, and inflammation as measured by the presence of C-reactive protein were assessed before and after the 10-week period. QoL, fatigue, and inflammation were significantly improved for the intervention group compared with control patients after their qigong program. However, no follow-up measures were taken to assess whether these effects endured over time. Additional studies evaluating both the “dose-response relationship” and endurance of benefit could help to determine efficient prescriptions for practice in cancer populations.
Lee MS, et al. Effects of chan-chuang qigong on improving symptom and psychological distress in chemotherapy patients. Am J Chin Med. 2006;34:37-46.
This nonrandomized study examined the effects of Chan-Chuang qigong practice on the physical and psychological symptoms experienced by 67 breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Patients were assigned to either a qigong group practicing for at least 15 minutes daily for 3 weeks, or a control group without any qigong practice. Measures of physical and psychological distress were taken at baseline and again on days 8, 15, and 22 for all patients using a 21-item symptom distress scale and psychological distress a revised symptom checklist-90-revised (SCL-90-R). Significant differences were found on day 8 for sense of numbness and heartburn, on day 15 for sense of numbness and pain, and on day 22 for sense of numbness (p<.01), heartburn, pain, and dizziness (p<.01). However, there were no significant differences for measures of psychological distress except on day 22 for “hopelessness about the future” and “unwillingness to live”. Future study designs that include randomization would eliminate potential bias.