Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 20, Issue 6, pp 1235–1242 | Cite as

Effect of medical Qigong on cognitive function, quality of life, and a biomarker of inflammation in cancer patients: a randomized controlled trial

  • Byeongsang OhEmail author
  • Phyllis N. Butow
  • Barbara A. Mullan
  • Stephen J. Clarke
  • Philip J. Beale
  • Nick Pavlakis
  • Myeong Soo Lee
  • David S. Rosenthal
  • Linda Larkey
  • Janette Vardy
Original Article



Cancer patients often experience diminished cognitive function (CF) and quality of life (QOL) due to the side effects of treatment and the disease symptoms. This study evaluates the effects of medical Qigong (MQ; combination of gentle exercise and meditation) on CF, QOL, and inflammation in cancer patients.


Eighty-one cancer patients recruited between October 2007 and May 2008 were randomly assigned to two groups: a control group (n = 44) who received the usual health care and an intervention group (n = 37) who participated in a 10-week MQ program. Self-reported CF was measured by the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC-CF) and the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy—Cognitive (FACT-Cog). The Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy—General (FACT-G) was used to measure QOL. C-reactive protein (CRP) was assessed as a biomarker of inflammation.


The MQ group self-reported significantly improved CF (mean difference (MD) = 7.78, t 51 = −2.532, p = 0.014) in the EORTC-CF and all the FACT-Cog subscales [perceived cognitive impairment (MD = 4.70, t 43 = −2.254, p = 0.029), impact of perceived cognitive impairment on QOL (MD = 1.64, t 45 = −2.377, p = 0.024), and perceived cognitive abilities (MD = 3.61, t 45 = −2.229, p = 0.031)] compared to controls. The MQ group also reported significantly improved QOL (MD = 12.66, t 45 = −5.715, p < 0.001) and had reduced CRP levels (MD = −0.72, t 45 = 2.092, p = 0.042) compared to controls.


Results suggest that MQ benefits cancer patients’ self-reported CF, QOL, and inflammation. A larger randomized controlled trial including an objective assessment of CF is planned.


Cancer Cognitive function Quality of life Inflammation Medical Qigong 



This study was supported by the University of Sydney Cancer Research Fund. The authors would like to thank the support provided for the study by the medical oncologists of Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Concord Hospital and Royal North Shore Hospital. The authors wish to acknowledge the contribution of the biostatistician, Prof. Judy Simpson, who provided statistical assistance and especially to thank the participants who made this study possible.

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Byeongsang Oh
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Phyllis N. Butow
    • 2
  • Barbara A. Mullan
    • 2
  • Stephen J. Clarke
    • 1
    • 3
  • Philip J. Beale
    • 1
    • 3
  • Nick Pavlakis
    • 3
  • Myeong Soo Lee
    • 4
  • David S. Rosenthal
    • 5
  • Linda Larkey
    • 6
  • Janette Vardy
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Sydney Medical School, University of SydneyRoyal Prince Alfred Hospital & Concord Repatriation General HospitalSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for Medical Psychology and Evidence-based Decisionmaking (CeMPED), School of PsychologyUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Medical OncologyRoyal North Shore HospitalSt LeonardsAustralia
  4. 4.Brain Disease Research CenterKorea Institute of Oriental MedicineDaejeonSouth Korea
  5. 5.Dana–Farber Cancer InstituteHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  6. 6.Scottsdale Healthcare Chair of Biobehavioral Oncology Research, College of Nursing and Health InnovationArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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