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An evidence map of the effect of Tai Chi on health outcomes

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      Abstract

      Background

      This evidence map describes the volume and focus of Tai Chi research reporting health outcomes. Originally developed as a martial art, Tai Chi is typically taught as a series of slow, low-impact movements that integrate the breath, mind, and physical activity to achieve greater awareness and a sense of well-being.

      Methods

      The evidence map is based on a systematic review of systematic reviews. We searched 11 electronic databases from inception to February 2014, screened reviews of reviews, and consulted with topic experts. We used a bubble plot to graphically display clinical topics, literature size, number of reviews, and a broad estimate of effectiveness.

      Results

      The map is based on 107 systematic reviews. Two thirds of the reviews were published in the last five years. The topics with the largest number of published randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were general health benefits (51 RCTs), psychological well-being (37 RCTs), interventions for older adults (31 RCTs), balance (27 RCTs), hypertension (18 RCTs), fall prevention (15 RCTs), and cognitive performance (11 RCTs). The map identified a number of areas with evidence of a potentially positive treatment effect on patient outcomes, including Tai Chi for hypertension, fall prevention outside of institutions, cognitive performance, osteoarthritis, depression, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pain, balance confidence, and muscle strength. However, identified reviews cautioned that firm conclusions cannot be drawn due to methodological limitations in the original studies and/or an insufficient number of existing research studies.

      Conclusions

      Tai Chi has been applied in diverse clinical areas, and for a number of these, systematic reviews have indicated promising results. The evidence map provides a visual overview of Tai Chi research volume and content.

      Systematic review registration

      PROSPERO CRD42014009907

      Electronic supplementary material

      The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13643-016-0300-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

      Related collections

      Most cited references 101

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      Interventions for preventing falls in older people living in the community.

      Approximately 30% of people over 65 years of age living in the community fall each year. This is an update of a Cochrane review first published in 2009. To assess the effects of interventions designed to reduce the incidence of falls in older people living in the community. We searched the Cochrane Bone, Joint and Muscle Trauma Group Specialised Register (February 2012), CENTRAL (The Cochrane Library 2012, Issue 3), MEDLINE (1946 to March 2012), EMBASE (1947 to March 2012), CINAHL (1982 to February 2012), and online trial registers. Randomised trials of interventions to reduce falls in community-dwelling older people. Two review authors independently assessed risk of bias and extracted data. We used a rate ratio (RaR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) to compare the rate of falls (e.g. falls per person year) between intervention and control groups. For risk of falling, we used a risk ratio (RR) and 95% CI based on the number of people falling (fallers) in each group. We pooled data where appropriate. We included 159 trials with 79,193 participants. Most trials compared a fall prevention intervention with no intervention or an intervention not expected to reduce falls. The most common interventions tested were exercise as a single intervention (59 trials) and multifactorial programmes (40 trials). Sixty-two per cent (99/159) of trials were at low risk of bias for sequence generation, 60% for attrition bias for falls (66/110), 73% for attrition bias for fallers (96/131), and only 38% (60/159) for allocation concealment.Multiple-component group exercise significantly reduced rate of falls (RaR 0.71, 95% CI 0.63 to 0.82; 16 trials; 3622 participants) and risk of falling (RR 0.85, 95% CI 0.76 to 0.96; 22 trials; 5333 participants), as did multiple-component home-based exercise (RaR 0.68, 95% CI 0.58 to 0.80; seven trials; 951 participants and RR 0.78, 95% CI 0.64 to 0.94; six trials; 714 participants). For Tai Chi, the reduction in rate of falls bordered on statistical significance (RaR 0.72, 95% CI 0.52 to 1.00; five trials; 1563 participants) but Tai Chi did significantly reduce risk of falling (RR 0.71, 95% CI 0.57 to 0.87; six trials; 1625 participants).Multifactorial interventions, which include individual risk assessment, reduced rate of falls (RaR 0.76, 95% CI 0.67 to 0.86; 19 trials; 9503 participants), but not risk of falling (RR 0.93, 95% CI 0.86 to 1.02; 34 trials; 13,617 participants).Overall, vitamin D did not reduce rate of falls (RaR 1.00, 95% CI 0.90 to 1.11; seven trials; 9324 participants) or risk of falling (RR 0.96, 95% CI 0.89 to 1.03; 13 trials; 26,747 participants), but may do so in people with lower vitamin D levels before treatment.Home safety assessment and modification interventions were effective in reducing rate of falls (RR 0.81, 95% CI 0.68 to 0.97; six trials; 4208 participants) and risk of falling (RR 0.88, 95% CI 0.80 to 0.96; seven trials; 4051 participants). These interventions were more effective in people at higher risk of falling, including those with severe visual impairment. Home safety interventions appear to be more effective when delivered by an occupational therapist.An intervention to treat vision problems (616 participants) resulted in a significant increase in the rate of falls (RaR 1.57, 95% CI 1.19 to 2.06) and risk of falling (RR 1.54, 95% CI 1.24 to 1.91). When regular wearers of multifocal glasses (597 participants) were given single lens glasses, all falls and outside falls were significantly reduced in the subgroup that regularly took part in outside activities. Conversely, there was a significant increase in outside falls in intervention group participants who took part in little outside activity.Pacemakers reduced rate of falls in people with carotid sinus hypersensitivity (RaR 0.73, 95% CI 0.57 to 0.93; three trials; 349 participants) but not risk of falling. First eye cataract surgery in women reduced rate of falls (RaR 0.66, 95% CI 0.45 to 0.95; one trial; 306 participants), but second eye cataract surgery did not.Gradual withdrawal of psychotropic medication reduced rate of falls (RaR 0.34, 95% CI 0.16 to 0.73; one trial; 93 participants), but not risk of falling. A prescribing modification programme for primary care physicians significantly reduced risk of falling (RR 0.61, 95% CI 0.41 to 0.91; one trial; 659 participants).An anti-slip shoe device reduced rate of falls in icy conditions (RaR 0.42, 95% CI 0.22 to 0.78; one trial; 109 participants). One trial (305 participants) comparing multifaceted podiatry including foot and ankle exercises with standard podiatry in people with disabling foot pain significantly reduced the rate of falls (RaR 0.64, 95% CI 0.45 to 0.91) but not the risk of falling.There is no evidence of effect for cognitive behavioural interventions on rate of falls (RaR 1.00, 95% CI 0.37 to 2.72; one trial; 120 participants) or risk of falling (RR 1.11, 95% CI 0.80 to 1.54; two trials; 350 participants).Trials testing interventions to increase knowledge/educate about fall prevention alone did not significantly reduce the rate of falls (RaR 0.33, 95% CI 0.09 to 1.20; one trial; 45 participants) or risk of falling (RR 0.88, 95% CI 0.75 to 1.03; four trials; 2555 participants).No conclusions can be drawn from the 47 trials reporting fall-related fractures.Thirteen trials provided a comprehensive economic evaluation. Three of these indicated cost savings for their interventions during the trial period: home-based exercise in over 80-year-olds, home safety assessment and modification in those with a previous fall, and one multifactorial programme targeting eight specific risk factors. Group and home-based exercise programmes, and home safety interventions reduce rate of falls and risk of falling.Multifactorial assessment and intervention programmes reduce rate of falls but not risk of falling; Tai Chi reduces risk of falling.Overall, vitamin D supplementation does not appear to reduce falls but may be effective in people who have lower vitamin D levels before treatment.
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        The effect of Tai Chi on health outcomes in patients with chronic conditions: a systematic review.

        To conduct a systematic review of reports on the physical and psychological effects of Tai Chi on various chronic medical conditions. Search of 11 computerized English and Chinese databases. Randomized controlled trials, nonrandomized controlled studies, and observational studies published in English or Chinese. Data were extracted for the study objective, population characteristics, study setting, type of Tai Chi intervention, study design, outcome assessment, duration of follow-up, and key results. There were 9 randomized controlled trials, 23 nonrandomized controlled studies, and 15 observational studies in this review. Benefits were reported in balance and strength, cardiovascular and respiratory function, flexibility, immune system, symptoms of arthritis, muscular strength, and psychological effects. Tai Chi appears to have physiological and psychosocial benefits and also appears to be safe and effective in promoting balance control, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness in older patients with chronic conditions. However, limitations or biases exist in most studies, and it is difficult to draw firm conclusions about the benefits reported. Most indications in which Tai Chi was applied lack a theoretical foundation concerning the mechanism of benefit. Well-designed studies are needed.
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          A comprehensive review of health benefits of qigong and tai chi.

          Research examining psychological and physiological benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi is growing rapidly. The many practices described as Qigong or Tai Chi have similar theoretical roots, proposed mechanisms of action, and expected benefits. Research trials and reviews, however, treat them as separate targets of examination. This review examines the evidence for achieving outcomes from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of both. The key words Tai Chi, Taiji, Tai Chi Chuan, and Qigong were entered into electronic search engines for the Cumulative Index for Allied Health and Nursing (CINAHL), psychological literature (PsycINFO), PubMed, Cochrane database, and Google Scholar. STUDY INCLUSION CRITERIA: RCTs reporting on the results of Qigong or Tai Chi interventions and published in peer-reviewed journals from 1993 to 2007. Country, type and duration of activity, number/type of subjects, control conditions, and reported outcomes were recorded for each study. Outcomes related to Qigong and Tai Chi practice were identified and evaluated. Seventy-seven articles met the inclusion criteria. The nine outcome category groupings that emerged were bone density (n = 4), cardiopulmonary effects (n = 19), physical function (n = 16), falls and related risk factors (n = 23), quality of life (n = 17), self-efficacy (n = 8), patient-reported outcomes (n = 13), psychological symptoms (n = 27), and immune function (n = 6). Research has demonstrated consistent, significant results for a number of health benefits in RCTs, evidencing progress toward recognizing the similarity and equivalence of Qigong and Tai Chi.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Los Angeles, CA USA
            [2 ]VA Evidence-based Synthesis Program (ESP) Center, Los Angeles, CA USA
            [3 ]University of California, Los Angeles, CA USA
            [4 ]Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC), RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA USA
            Contributors
            sollowaymi@gmail.com
            Stephanie.Taylor8@va.gov
            paul.shekelle@va.gov
            isomi.miake-lye@va.gov
            Jessica.Beroes@va.gov
            roberta@rand.org
            ORCID: http://orcid.org/0000-0003-1597-5110, susanne_hempel@rand.org
            Journal
            Syst Rev
            Syst Rev
            Systematic Reviews
            BioMed Central (London )
            2046-4053
            27 July 2016
            27 July 2016
            2016
            : 5
            27460789
            4962385
            300
            10.1186/s13643-016-0300-y
            © The Author(s). 2016

            Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

            Funding
            Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/100000738, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs;
            Categories
            Research
            Custom metadata
            © The Author(s) 2016

            Public health

            systematic review, tai chi, evidence map, health

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