The Effectiveness of Qigong in Managing a Cluster of Symptoms (Breathlessness-Fatigue-Anxiety) in Patients with Lung Cancer: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Author: Alex Molassiotis1, Dau Van Vu2, Shirley Siu Yin Ching1
1 The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hksar, China.
2 Nam Dinh University of Nursing, Han Thuyen, Nam Dinh, Vietnam.
Conference/Journal: Integr Cancer Ther
Date published: Jan-Dec 2021
Other: Volume ID: 20 , Pages: 15347354211008253 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1177/15347354211008253. , Word Count: 316

Background and purpose:
Qigong is used by cancer patients, but its effect is not adequately evaluated to date. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of Qigong for the management of a symptom cluster comprising fatigue, dyspnea, and anxiety in patients with lung cancer.

A total of 156 lung cancer patients participated in this trial, and they were randomized to a Qigong group (6 weeks of intervention) or a waitlist control group receiving usual care. The symptom cluster was assessed at baseline, at the end of treatment (primary outcome), and at 12 weeks, alongside measures of cough and quality of life (QOL).

There was no significant interaction effect between group and time for the symptom cluster overall and for fatigue and anxiety. However, a significant trend towards improvement was observed on fatigue (P = .004), dyspnea (P = .002), and anxiety (P = .049) in the Qigong group from baseline assessment to the end of intervention at the 6th week (within-group changes). Improvements in dyspnea and in the secondary outcomes of cough, global health status, functional well-being and QOL symptom scales were statistically significant between the 2 groups (P = .001, .014, .021, .001, and .002, respectively).

Qigong did not alleviate the symptom cluster experience. Nevertheless, this intervention was effective in reducing dyspnea and cough, and improving QOL. More than 6 weeks were needed, however, for detecting the effect of Qigong on improving dyspnea. Furthermore, men benefited more than women. It may not be beneficial to use Qigong to manage the symptom cluster consisting of fatigue, dyspnea, and anxiety, but it may be effective in managing respiratory symptoms (secondary outcomes needing further verification in future research). Future studies targeting symptom clusters should ensure the appropriateness of the combination of symptoms.

Trial registration: Identifier: NCT02977845. Registered November 30, 2016.

Keywords: Qigong; anxiety; cough; dyspnea; fatigue; lung cancer; quality of life.

PMID: 33847150 DOI: 10.1177/15347354211008253