Mental Health Benefits of a Traditional Vegetative Biofeedback Therapy Online Program during the COVID-19 Lockdown: A Controlled Trial

Author: Jorge Magalhães Rodrigues1,2,3,4, Catarina Santos2,4, Cristina Ventura2,4, Jorge Machado1,3,4,5
1 ICBAS, School of Medicine Biomedical Sciences, University of Porto, 4050-313 Porto, Portugal.
2 IPTC-Research Department in Complementary Medicine, Portuguese Institute of Taiji and Qigong, 4470-765 Maia, Portugal.
3 CBSin-Center of BioSciences in Integrative Health, 4200-135 Porto, Portugal.
4 Health Level, ABS-Atlântico Business School, 4405-604 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal.
5 LABIOMEP-Porto Biomechanics Laboratory, University of Porto, 4200-450 Porto, Portugal.
Conference/Journal: Healthcare (Basel)
Date published: 2022 Sep 23
Other: Volume ID: 10 , Issue ID: 10 , Pages: 1843 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3390/healthcare10101843. , Word Count: 219

Mandatory lockdown resulting from a pandemic may be effective against the physical impact of the virus; however, the resulting mental strains can lead to the development of several mental disturbances. Taijiquan and Qigong are considered traditional vegetative biofeedback therapies that allow the practitioner to control the functions and processes of the body through specific movements or stances, breathing techniques, and meditative exercises. This study aims to understand if these techniques can be applied as an online distance therapeutic option to reduce the psychological impact of home confinement and social distancing. Sixty-four participants were recruited and allocated to three groups. The experienced and novice Taijiquan and Qigong participants' groups received the intervention for 8 weeks while the control group did not receive any intervention. The outcomes were psychological well-being and psychological distress levels and were assessed by the Mental Health Inventory and a written interview. The experienced Taijiquan and Qigong participants achieved significant improvements in psychological well-being and psychological distress. Novice Taijiquan and Qigong participants achieved a significant improvement in anxiety levels. Additionally, the control group showed a significant decrease in psychological well-being. This study suggests that this distance online program of Taijiquan and Qigong is feasible and may benefit the mental health of participants during a lockdown.

Keywords: COVID-19; Qigong; Taijiquan; lockdown; mental health; traditional Chinese medicine.

PMID: 36292291 DOI: 10.3390/healthcare10101843