Evaluation of Tai Chi Program Effectiveness for People with Arthritis in the Community: A Randomized Controlled Trial

in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity

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

Callahan, Cleveland, Altpeter, and Hackney are with the Thurston Arthritis Research Center, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC. Callahan is also with the Departments of Medicine, Social Medicine, and Orthopaedics, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC. Altpeter is also with the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC.

Address author correspondence to Leigh F. Callahan at leigh_callahan@med.unc.edu.
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