Extension Trial of Qigong for Fibromyalgia: A Quantitative and Qualitative Study

Department of Pharmacology, Dalhousie University, 5850 College Street, P.O. Box 15000, Halifax, NS, Canada B3H 4R2.
Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (Impact Factor: 1.88). 08/2013; 2013(2):726062. DOI: 10.1155/2013/726062
Source: PubMed


This extension trial is an open-label observational trial of 20 subjects with fibromyalgia who undertook level 2 Chaoyi Fanhuan Qigong (CFQ) training following an earlier controlled trial of level 1 CFQ. Subjects practiced 60 min/day for 8 weeks and continued some daily practice for 6 months. Quantitative measures, assessed at baseline, 8 weeks, 4 and 6 months, were of pain, impact, sleep, physical and mental functions, and practice time. Qualitative comments also were recorded. Compared to baselines, CFQ practice led to significant improvements in pain, impact, sleep, and physical function in the 13 subjects (65%) who completed the trial; changes were present at 8 weeks and were maintained for the 6-month trial duration. A highly motivated subgroup of N = 5, who practiced the most, had the best outcomes in terms of end symptomology, and qualitative comments indicated health benefits in other domains as well. Qualitative comments by the remaining N = 8 trial completers and N = 7 withdrawals indicate different experiences with the practice. This extension trial indicates that diligent CFQ practice over time produces significant health gains in fibromyalgia in a subset of individuals. Future studies will need to address factors that might predispose to favourable outcomes.

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Available from: Jana Sawynok, Apr 14, 2014
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives: A randomized controlled trial (RCT) and an extension trial of qigong (Chaoyi Fanhuan qigong [CFQ]) in patients with fibromyalgia were recently completed. In the present study, a qualitative analysis of comments from the RCT was undertaken using motivation and amount of practice to determine whether initial experiences provided information relevant to outcomes. Intervention: Participants in the RCT received instruction in qigong (level 1 CFQ), practiced 45 min/day for 8 weeks and continued practice to 6 months; open-ended qualitative comments on experiences were invited at 8 weeks and 4 and 6 months. Extension trial participants received further instruction (level 2 CFQ) and practiced regularly for 8 weeks-6 months. Comments from the original RCT were considered as narratives for the extension trial subgroup (n=20) and thematically, according to amount of practice, for all participants who completed the RCT (n=73). Results: Narrative comments from the RCT for those who completed the extension trial (n=13) and those who withdrew from that trial (n=7) were considered separately. Participants reporting benefits within the first 8 weeks were more likely to maintain practice and report continued benefits at 4-6 months than those who withdrew from the trial. Thematic comments for all who completed the RCT (n=73) were considered in relation to amount of practice (per protocol, intermediate, minimal). Participants who practiced per protocol during the initial 8 weeks (≥5 hours/wk) were more likely to maintain practice over 4-6 months and to report beneficial health effects from qigong. Conclusions: This retrospective qualitative analysis of information collected in an RCT of qigong for fibromyalgia indicates that favorable initial experiences with the practice over 8 weeks predispose to continued practice and more health effects. Future individual trials and meta-analyses of qigong will need to attend to the amount, and potentially quality, of practice undertaken in considering trial outcomes.
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    ABSTRACT: Introduction. Qigong is currently considered as meditative movement, mindful exercise, or complementary exercise and is being explored for relief of symptoms in fibromyalgia. Aim. This narrative review summarizes randomized controlled trials, as well as additional studies, of qigong published to the end of 2013 and discusses relevant methodological issues. Results. Controlled trials indicate regular qigong practice (daily, 6-8 weeks) produces improvements in core domains for fibromyalgia (pain, sleep, impact, and physical and mental function) that are maintained at 4-6 months compared to wait-list subjects or baselines. Comparisons with active controls show little difference, but compared to baseline there are significant and comparable effects in both groups. Open-label studies provide information that supports benefit but remain exploratory. An extension trial and case studies involving extended practice (daily, 6-12 months) indicate marked benefits but are limited by the number of participants. Benefit appears to be related to amount of practice. Conclusions. There is considerable potential for qigong to be a useful complementary practice for the management of fibromyalgia. However, there are unique methodological challenges, and exploration of its clinical potential will need to focus on pragmatic issues and consider a spectrum of trial designs. Mechanistic considerations need to consider both system-wide and more specific effects.
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