Qigong for healthcare: an overview of systematic reviews

JRSM Short Rep. 2011 Feb 7;2(2):7. doi: 10.1258/shorts.2010.010091.


Objectives: Qigong has been recommended to improve health and prevent disease but the evidence is inconclusive. The aim of this overview was to critically evaluate all systematic reviews (SRs) of qigong for the treatment of any condition or symptom.

Design: Literature searches were carried out in 11 electronic databases for all systematic reviews of the effectiveness of qigong in any indication. Reviews were defined as systematic if they included an explicit and repeatable methods section describing the search strategy and explicit inclusion/exclusion criteria.

Setting: Retrospective review of medical database.

Participants: Participants with any type of medical conditions of any severity were included.

Main outcome measures: Evidence from each systematic review.

Results: Ten systematic reviews were included. They related to a wide range of conditions. The primary studies and several of the reviews were associated with a high risk of bias. Five reviews concluded that qigong is effective and five reviews were inconclusive.

Conclusion: The effectiveness of qigong is based mostly on poor quality research. Therefore, it would be unwise to draw firm conclusions at this stage.