Background: Qigong is highly favoured among Asian breast cancer survivors for enhancing health. This study examined the hypothesis that quality of life (QoL) in the Qigong group is better than the placebo (aerobic) or usual care group.
Materials and methods: A total of 197 participants were randomly assigned to either the 8-week Kuala Lumpur Qigong Trial or control groups in 2010-2011. Measurement taken at baseline and post- intervention included QoL, distress and fatigue. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) and Kruskal Wallis were used to examine for differences between groups in the measurements.
Results: There were 95 consenting participants in this 8week trial. The adherence rates were 63% for Qigong and 65% for the placebo group. The Qigong group showed significant marginal improvement in Quality of life scores compared to placebo (mean difference=7.3 unit; p=0.036), compared to usual care (mean difference=6.7 unit; p=0.048) on Functional Assessment Cancer Therapy-Breast measure. There were no significant changes between the placebo and usual care groups in fatigue or distress at post intervention (8-week).
Conclusions: Cancer survivors who participated in the Qigong intervention showed slightly better QOL. Follow up studies are greatly needed to evaluate which subgroups may best benefit from Qigong. With a steep rise of cancer survivors, there is an urgent need to explore and engage more cultural means of physical activity to fight side effects of treatment and for cancer control in developing countries.