Effects of T'ai Chi exercise on fibromyalgia symptoms and health-related quality of life

Orthop Nurs. Sep-Oct 2003;22(5):353-60. doi: 10.1097/00006416-200309000-00013.


Background: Fibromyalgia (FM), one of the most common musculoskeletal disorders, is associated with high levels of impaired health and inadequate or limited symptom relief. The cause of this complex syndrome is unknown, and there is no known cure. Numerous research results indicate that a combination of physical exercise and mind-body therapy is effective in symptom management. T'ai Chi, an ancient Chinese exercise, combines physical exercise with mindbody therapy.

Purpose: To investigate the effects of T'ai Chi exercise on FM symptoms and health-related quality of life.

Design: Pilot study, one group pre-to-post posttest design.

Methods: Participants with FM (n = 39) formed a single group for 6 weeks of 1-hour, twice weekly T'ai Chi exercise classes. FM symptoms and health-related quality of life were measured before and after exercise.

Findings: Twenty-one participants completed at least 10 of the 12 exercise sessions. Although the dropout rate was higher than expected, measurements on both the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ) (Buckhardt, Clark, & Bennett, 1991) and the Short Form-36 (SE-36) (Ware & Sherbourne, 1992) revealed statistically significant improvement in symptom management and health-related quality of life.

Implications for nursing research: Knowledge of interventions to enhance health for the patient with musculoskeletal problems is a National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses priority. Tai Chi is potentially beneficial to patients with FM. Further research is needed to support evidence-based practice.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / diagnosis
  • Fibromyalgia / psychology*
  • Fibromyalgia / rehabilitation*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality of Life*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tai Ji / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome