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Evaluation of Tai Chi Course Effectiveness for People with Arthritis.

Evaluation of Tai Chi Course Effectiveness for People with Arthritis. Arthritis & Rheumatism. 2010(Oct);62(10 Suppl):S288, abstract 690 [conference abstracts PDF here].

Leigh F. Callahan1, Jack H. Shreffler3, Betsy S. Hackney3, Kathryn Remmes Martin2 and Brian Charnock3. 1Univ of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, 2University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, 3University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

 Purpose: To evaluate the effectiveness of the Arthritis Foundation’s 6-week Tai Chi course in reducing symptoms, increasing function, and improving psychosocial status in participants with arthritis using a communitybased randomized control trial (RCT).

 Methods: At baseline, 332 participants were registered at 20 sites in North Carolina or New Jersey and randomly assigned to treatment (172) ordelayed control (160). All participants received baseline and 6-week follow-up evaluations, after which the control group received the course. No adverse events were noted during the course. Self-report Instruments included pain, fatigue and stiffness visual analog scales (VAS), Health Assessment

Questionnaire (HAQ), general health, Rheumatology Attitudes Index (RAI,

helplessness), and Arthritis self-efficacy (ASE) for pain and symptoms.

Participants also completed the PROMIS™ (PR) Short Form instruments for

sleep disturbance and satisfaction with social roles. Physical performance

measures were time to complete 3 chair stands, normal and fast gait speed,

single leg stance, and reaching ability. The follow-up rate was 75% (120

control; 128 treatment). Regression analyses related the change in score from

baseline to 6-week follow-up to the intervention status, with adjustment for

baseline value, age, gender, and BMI.


Results: There are no significant differences between treatment and

control groups at baseline. The participants were 85% female, with average

age of 65 (19–89) and BMI of 28.5. The group was highly educated, 15%

with high school diploma and 82% continuing beyond high school. The racial

breakdown was 85% Caucasian and 11% African American. Results of the

regression analyses showed significant (p_0.05) modest improvements in the

treatment group for reported pain, fatigue and stiffness VAS (effect sizes

ES_0.27, 0.23, 0.29, respectively). Moderate significant improvements were

also seen in helplessness (RAI, ES_0.35), self-efficacy (ASE) for pain

(ES_0.26) and symptoms (ES_0.35) of arthritis, PR sleep disturbance

(ES_0.43), and PR satisfaction with social roles (0.31). Total of four reaching

spans (left, right, forward, backward) showed significant improvement after

treatment (ES_0.31).                                                                                        


Conclusions: Participants in the AF Tai Chi program showed improvements

in pain, fatigue, and stiffness and sense of well-being related to

psychosocial variables. The HAQ measure of physical function did not

indicate significant change, and the physical performance measures involving

chair stands, gait speed and single leg stance were not improved convincingly.

The ability to reach while maintaining balance improved, perhaps reflecting

the nature of the Tai Chi training and movements.


Disclosure: L. F. Callahan: None; J. H. Shreffler: None; B. S. Hackney: None; K. R.

Martin: None; B. Charnock: None.