Tai Chi Chuan, health-related quality of life and self-esteem: A randomized trial with breast cancer survivors



Health-related quality of life (HRQL) and self-esteem are often diminished among women diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. Tai Chi is a moderate form of exercise that may be an effective therapy for improving HRQL and self-esteem among these women. We sought to compare the efficacy of Tai Chi Chuan (TCC) and psychosocial support (PST) for improving HRQL and self-esteem among breast cancer survivors.

Patients and methods

A group of 21 women diagnosed with breast cancer, who had completed treatment within the last 30 months were randomized to receive 12 weeks of TCC or PST. Participants in both groups met three times a week for 60 minutes. HRQL and self-esteem were assessed at baseline, 6 weeks, and 12 weeks.


The TCC group demonstrated significant improvements in HRQL, while the PST group reported declines in HRQL, with the differences between the two groups approaching significance at week 12. Additionally, the TCC group exhibited improvements in self-esteem, while the PST group reported declines in self-esteem, with the differences between groups reaching statistical significance at week 12. These findings, coupled with a visual inspection of the raw change scores, support the plausibility of a dose-response relationship concerning Tai Chi.


In this pilot investigation, the TCC group exhibited improvements in HRQL and self-esteem from baseline to 6 and 12 weeks, while the support group exhibited declines. Randomized, controlled clinical trials with larger sample sizes are needed.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Karen M. Mustian.

Additional information

Supported by awards from the Susan Stout Exercise Science Research Fund and the Sally Schindel Cone Women’s and Gender Studies Research Fund at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

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Mustian, K.M., Katula, J.A., Gill, D.L. et al. Tai Chi Chuan, health-related quality of life and self-esteem: A randomized trial with breast cancer survivors. Support Care Cancer 12, 871–876 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-004-0682-6

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  • Breast cancer
  • Exercise
  • Quality of life
  • Self-esteem
  • Tai Chi