Larkey LK, et al. Randomized controlled trial of qigong/tai chi easy on cancer-related fatigue in breast cancer survivors. Ann Behav Med. 2014.
This double-blind, randomized controlled trial compared a combination of tai chi and qigong with sham qigong to evaluate their effects on fatigue, mood, and sleep disturbances. At total of 87 postmenopausal fatigued breast cancer survivors were randomized to either intervention, but participants and staff were blinded to these assignments by labeling both classes “rejuvenating movement.” Real and sham 60-minute sessions were conducted twice weekly for the first 2 weeks to increase learning retention, followed by weekly sessions for the remaining 10 weeks, and taught by staff experienced in leading exercise with cancer patients. Methods of evaluation included the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, Fatigue Symptom Inventory, and the Beck Depression Inventory. A significant decrease was noted with the real/combined intervention for fatigue compared with the sham control both post-intervention (P = .005) and at 3 months follow-up (P = .024). There were also improvements with both interventions over time for depression and sleep quality.
Campo RA, et al. Feasibility and acceptability of a Tai Chi Chih randomized controlled trial in senior female cancer survivors. Integr Cancer Ther. 2013;12:464-474.
A condensed form of tai chi (tai chi chih; TCC) was evaluated in cancer survivors with physical functioning limitations for its effects on health-related QoL (QOL). A total of 63 senior female cancer survivors were randomized to 60-minute sessions three times weekly for 12 weeks of either TCC or a health education control (HEC). Primary outcomes were feasibility and acceptability, with secondary outcomes including patient feedback on the intervention and health-related QOL using the SF-36 Health Survey. Retention was highest with TCC vs HEC (91% vs 81%, respectively), although class attendance was lower in the TCC group (79% vs 83%), and there were no between-group differences for satisfaction levels (both high). Within-group analyses showed significant improvements in the mental component summary score of the SF-36 survey for TCC (P = .01) but not HEC. However, with only baseline and 1 week post-intervention assessments, too few timepoints may not have adequately captured the benefits of TCC on QoL. An additional difference was noted in the type of perceived benefit received: TCC participants felt they received mental and physical benefits, while HEC participants reported benefits of social support and the information supplied. Larger trials are needed to confirm dosage and QoL effects for cancer survivors.
Sprod LK, et al. Health-related quality of life and biomarkers in breast cancer survivors participating in tai chi chuan. J Cancer Surviv. 2012;6:146-154.
This study compared changes in health-related QoL (HRQOL) and biomarkers between tai chi chuan (TCC) and standard support therapy (SST). Twenty-one breast cancer patients were randomized to either TCC or SST for 12 weeks of 3 times weekly 60-minute sessions. Pre- and postintervention measures included interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), IGF-binding protein (IBFBP)-1, IGFBP-3, glucose, insulin, and cortisol. TCC participants experienced significant improvements in total HRQOL, physical functioning, physical role limitations, social functioning, and general mental health, while the SST group improved in social functioning and vitality only. IGF-1 changes were associated with overall HRQOL, physical role limitation, and social functioning; IGFBP-1 changes with physical role limitations changes; and IGFBP-3 changes with physical functioning changes. Cortisol changes were associated with physical role limitation changes and health perceptions; and glucose and IL-8 changes with emotional role limitation changes. This work should be replicated in larger RCTs in patients with various types of cancer to confirm results and increase generalizability.
Li F, et al. Tai chi and postural stability in patients with Parkinson's disease. N Engl J Med. 2012;366:511-519.
In this triple-arm RCT, a tailored tai chi program was evaluated for its effects on postural control in patients with idiopathic Parkinson's disease. A total of 195 patients with stage 1– 4 disease were randomly assigned to either tai chi, resistance training, or stretching. All exercise sessions were conducted for 60 minutes twice weekly for 24 weeks. The primary outcome was limits-of-stability test changes from baseline (maximum excursion and directional control). Secondary outcomes included gait and strength measures, functional-reach and timed up-and-go scores, Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale motor scores, and number of falls. Tai chi participants consistently performed better than resistance-training and stretching groups for both maximum excursion and directional control. Tai chi also outperformed resistance-training for stride length and functional reach, and was better than stretching for all secondary outcomes and to lower the incidence of falls. Further, benefits with tai chi were maintained 3 months post-intervention with no serious adverse events in patients with mild-to-moderate Parkinson's disease.