Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 26, Issue 7, pp 2091–2102 | Cite as

Ameliorative effects of Tai Chi on cancer-related fatigue: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

  • Shangjin Song
  • Jiahui Yu
  • Yi Ruan
  • Xuan Liu
  • Lijuan Xiu
  • Xiaoqiang Yue
Review Article



This meta-analysis investigated the effectiveness of Tai Chi on cancer-related fatigue (CRF).


Nine databases (PubMed, Web of Science, Ovid, the Cochrane Library, Embase, and four Chinese databases) were searched to identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that evaluated the effects of Tai Chi on CRF. The reference lists given in the identified RCTs were also reviewed to identify potentially relevant studies.


Six RCTs involving 373 patients were included. The change in short- and long-term CRF (SCRF and LCRF, respectively) was calculated as the change in the mean score for CRF from baseline to the end of intervention period and to the end of post-intervention follow-up, respectively. Pooled results suggested that Tai Chi had a significant positive effect on standard mean difference (i.e., SCRF; SMD = − 0.54; p < 0.0001), but the impact on LCRF remained unclear. Subgroup analyses of SCRF indicated positive effects of Tai Chi among patients with breast (SMD = − 0.81; p < 0.00001) and lung cancer (SMD = − 0.50; p = 0.002), but not prostate cancer (p = 0.98). Tai Chi also had effects on SCRF that were superior to physical exercise and psychological support (SMD = − 0.49 and − 0.84, respectively; both p < 0.05). A longer intervention time (8–12 weeks) benefited SCRF more than a shorter time (SMD = − 1.08 and − 0.36, respectively; both p < 0.05).


Tai Chi for more than 8 weeks has short-term ameliorative effects on CRF, especially among patients with breast and lung cancer. Its beneficial effects are superior to physical exercise and psychological support. It remains unclear whether there are long-term benefits, and further study is needed.


Tai Chi Fatigue Neoplasms Meta-analysis 


Funding information

This study was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81603434) and Shanghai Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning Program (No. ZY3-CCCX-3-3038).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shangjin Song
    • 1
  • Jiahui Yu
    • 1
  • Yi Ruan
    • 2
  • Xuan Liu
    • 1
  • Lijuan Xiu
    • 1
  • Xiaoqiang Yue
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Changzheng HospitalNaval Medical University (Second Military Medical University)ShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Changhai HospitalNaval Medical University (Second Military Medical University)ShanghaiChina

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