The effect of qigong on depressive and anxiety symptoms: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:716094. doi: 10.1155/2013/716094. Epub 2013 May 20.


Objective. To evaluate clinical trial evidence of the effectiveness of qigong exercise on depressive and anxiety symptoms. Methods. Thirteen databases were searched from their respective inception through December 2012. Relevant randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were included. Effects of qigong across trials were pooled. Standardized mean differences (SMDs) were calculated for the pooled effects. Heterogeneity was assessed using the I (2) test. Study quality was evaluated using the Wayne Checklist. Results. Twelve RCTs met the inclusion criteria. The results of meta-analyses suggested a beneficial effect of qigong exercise on depressive symptoms when compared to waiting-list controls or usual care only (SMD = -0.75; 95% CI, -1.44 to -0.06), group newspaper reading (SMD = -1.24; 95% CI, -1.64 to -0.84), and walking or conventional exercise (SMD = -0.52; 95% CI, -0.85 to -0.19), which might be comparable to that of cognitive-behavioral therapy (P = 0.54). Available evidence did not suggest a beneficial effect of qigong exercise on anxiety symptoms. Conclusion. Qigong may be potentially beneficial for management of depressive symptoms, but the results should be interpreted with caution due to the limited number of RCTs and associated methodological weaknesses. Further rigorously designed RCTs are warranted.