Background: Tai chi has been increasingly applied in osteoporosis patients. However, systematic reviews of the efficacy of this practice have been few and of limited scope.
Purpose: This study reviews previous experimental research work using tai chi as an intervention in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis and to appraise the reported research designs used, tai chi methods used, and outcomes.
Methods: A systematic review method was used to search 14 databases for articles published between January 1980 and July 2013. Searched keywords included: "tai chi," "osteoporosis," and "postmenopausal women". The 2,458 articles initially identified were reduced to 4 valid articles based on considerations of criteria and repeatability. The 4 valid articles used either a randomized clinical trial (RCT) or a controlled clinical trial (CCT). They were further analyzed and synthesized in terms of common variables such as balance, muscle strength, and quality of life.
Result: Three of the 4 studies identified significant pretest / posttest differences in physiological aspects of quality of life in participants but did not obtain consistent results in terms of the psychological aspects. While reports identified a significant and positive tai chi effect on balance, they all used different measurements to do so. Only one of the four studies identified significant improvement in muscle strength. Therefore, this review could not identify clear support for the effectiveness of tai chi on balance or muscle strength.
Conclusions: This review did not definitively support the positive effects of tai chi on balance, muscle strength, and quality of life in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. The designs used in the tai chi interventions may be referenced for future studies. We suggest that future studies use data triangulation rather than a single-item tool to validate the research in order to cross-verify the same information. This may strengthen the research and increase the credibility and the validity of related findings.
Keywords: balance; muscle strength; postmenopausal women with osteoporosis; quality of life; tai chi.