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Leigh F. Callahan, Rebecca J. Cleveland, Mary Altpeter and Betsy Hackney

Objective:

Evaluate effectiveness of the Arthritis Foundation Tai Chi Program for community participants with arthritis.

Methods:

343 individuals were randomized to either the intervention or wait-list control group. Performance and self-reported outcome (SRO) measures were assessed at baseline and eight weeks. At one year, SROs only were assessed. Adjusted means were determined using regression models adjusting for covariates, and effect sizes (ES) were calculated.

Results:

Average participant age was 66 years, 87% were female, and 87% were Caucasian. Among 284 (83%) participants who returned at eight weeks, balance by reach (ES = 0.30) and helplessness, sleep, and role participation satisfaction (ES = 0.24–0.54) improved significantly; pain, fatigue, and stiffness improvement (ES = 0.15–0.23) approached significance. No change was noted in mobility, lower extremity strength, or single-leg stance balance. At one year, improvements in pain, fatigue, stiffness, helplessness, and role participation satisfaction at eight weeks were maintained; 30% continued tai chi practice.

Conclusion:

Moderate effectiveness of the Arthritis Foundation Tai Chi Program was confirmed.