Qigong Clinical Research

Author: Mayer MH
Date published: 2003
Other: Pages: 121-137 , Word Count: 419

This review is an update of our previous research ( Mayer 1999), adding three studies (Wen 1998, Yasutami 1999, Zdravkovic 1998) and one book (Johnson 2000). Specifically, the previous article is augmented with some discussion of Qigong treatments, a brief section on internal versus external Qigong and further discussion of general research methodology issues.

Research studies have pointed to various health-related positive effects of Qigong; however, problems in much of the current Qigong research methodology on internal and external Qigong have limited interpretation of the potential benefits of Qigong. Examples of research on Qigong and hypertension are used to bring to light some of these methodological issues. In a review of 33 representative studies various areas of concern are addressed, including: the sources of studies, lack of random assignment, selection biases, treatment effects, placebo response issues, expectancy biases, blinded outcome assessment, adherence to treatment, reliability of blood pressure measurements, regression to the mean, publication biases, and lack of consistency of measurement. One of the longest term studies, conducted by Kuang (et al 1991) and updated by Wang et al (1993) is examined in greater detail to illustrate these issues. This study took place over twenty years and reported significant differences between a group practicing Qigong and control group in a variety of measures including a reduction of total mortality rate.

The weight of evidence of the 33 studies representing approximately 5545 subjects suggests that practicing Qigong has a positive effect on hypertension in the following areas: blood pressure, blood circulation , other cardiovascular measures and other health related measures including strokes, deaths due to strokes and overall mortality. However due to inadequate addressing of methodology issues it is difficult to determine just how effective Qigong is, and what other factors may contribute to the positive effects reported in the studies reviewed.

Whether Qigong alone can affect hypertension is not necessarily the most important question. Further research will be required to better assess and understand the effect of adding Qigong into an integrated, multifaceted program that selectively incorporates diet, moderate aerobic exercise, relaxation training and social and psychological dimensions.

We specifically recommend that future studies: control for exercise as a confounding variable, report data on adherence to treatment, measure the dose response effect to treatment and use blinded outcome assessment. Questionnaires can be designed to further determine the weight of factors contributing to treatment effects such as: life style factors including diet and exercise, personality variables, belief in Qigong, adjunctive treatments and medications used by subjects.For more information please contact Dr. Mayer at drmichael@bodymindhealing.com or contact www.elsevierhealth.com.