Ameliorative effects of Tai Chi on cancer-related fatigue: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Support Care Cancer. 2018 Jul;26(7):2091-2102. doi: 10.1007/s00520-018-4136-y. Epub 2018 Mar 21.


Purpose: This meta-analysis investigated the effectiveness of Tai Chi on cancer-related fatigue (CRF).

Methods: Nine databases (PubMed, Web of Science, Ovid, the Cochrane Library, Embase, and four Chinese databases) were searched to identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that evaluated the effects of Tai Chi on CRF. The reference lists given in the identified RCTs were also reviewed to identify potentially relevant studies.

Results: Six RCTs involving 373 patients were included. The change in short- and long-term CRF (SCRF and LCRF, respectively) was calculated as the change in the mean score for CRF from baseline to the end of intervention period and to the end of post-intervention follow-up, respectively. Pooled results suggested that Tai Chi had a significant positive effect on standard mean difference (i.e., SCRF; SMD = - 0.54; p < 0.0001), but the impact on LCRF remained unclear. Subgroup analyses of SCRF indicated positive effects of Tai Chi among patients with breast (SMD = - 0.81; p < 0.00001) and lung cancer (SMD = - 0.50; p = 0.002), but not prostate cancer (p = 0.98). Tai Chi also had effects on SCRF that were superior to physical exercise and psychological support (SMD = - 0.49 and - 0.84, respectively; both p < 0.05). A longer intervention time (8-12 weeks) benefited SCRF more than a shorter time (SMD = - 1.08 and - 0.36, respectively; both p < 0.05).

Conclusion: Tai Chi for more than 8 weeks has short-term ameliorative effects on CRF, especially among patients with breast and lung cancer. Its beneficial effects are superior to physical exercise and psychological support. It remains unclear whether there are long-term benefits, and further study is needed.

Keywords: Fatigue; Meta-analysis; Neoplasms; Tai Chi.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Exercise*
  • Fatigue / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Quality of Life*
  • Tai Ji*