The Effect of Tai Chi and Qigong Exercise on Depression and Anxiety of Individuals With Substance Use Disorders: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Author: Fang Liu 1, Jiabao Cui 1, Xuan Liu 1, Kevin W Chen 1 2, Xiaorong Chen 1, Ru Li 3
Affiliation: 1 Faculty of Physical Education, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen, 518060, China. 2 Center for Integrative Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA. 3 Faculty of Physical Education, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen, 518060, China.
Conference/Journal: BMC Complement Med Ther
Date published: 2020 May 29
Other: Volume ID: 20 , Issue ID: 1 , Pages: 161 , Word Count: 288

PMID: 32471415 DOI: 10.1186/s12906-020-02967-8

Background: Previous studies have acknowledged Tai Chi and Qigong exercise could be potential effective treatments for reducing depression and anxiety in both healthy and clinical populations. However, there is a scarcity of systematic reviews summarizing the clinical evidence conducted among individuals with substance use disorders. This study tries to fill up this gap.

Methods: A systematic search using Medline, EMbase, PsychINFO, Eric, SPORTDiscus, CINAHL, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), the Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), Wanfang, and the Chinese Scientific Journal (VIP) databases was initiated to identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and non-randomized comparison studies (NRS) assessing the effect of Tai Chi and Qigong versus various comparison groups on depression and anxiety related outcomes. Study quality was evaluated using a Checklist to Evaluate a Report of a Nonpharmacological Trial (CLEAR-NPT) designed for nonpharmacological trial.

Results: One RCT and six NRS with a total of 772 participants were identified. Some of them were meta-analyzed to examine the pooled effects based on different types of intervention and controls. The results of meta-analyses suggested the effect of Tai Chi was comparable to treatment as usual (TAU) on depression (standardized mean difference (SMD) = - 0.17[- 0.52, 0.17]). Qigong exercise appears to result in improvement on anxiety compared to that of medication (SMD = -1.12[- 1.47, - 0.78]), and no treatment control (SMD = -0.52[- 0.77, - 0.27]).

Conclusion: The findings suggest potentially beneficial effect of Qigong exercise on symptoms of anxiety among individuals with drug abuse. Considering the small number and overall methodological weakness of included studies and lack of RCTs, results should be interpreted with caution and future rigorously designed RCTs are warranted to provide more reliable evidence.

Keywords: Anxiety; Depressive disorder; Qigong; Review; Substance-related disorders; Tai ji.