The efficacy of Guolin-Qigong on the body-mind health of Chinese women with breast cancer: a randomized controlled trial



This study was to evaluate the efficacy of a complementary Chinese treatment modality Guolin-Qigong (GLQG) for patients with breast cancer on the body-mind health.


A randomized controlled clinical trial was conducted among 158 women with breast cancer. Subjects were randomized to receive GLQG (test group) versus a physical stretching program (control group) following conventional treatment for breast cancer. GLQG and stretching interventions were performed twice a week over 24 weeks. The primary outcome was the change in quality of life (QoL). Secondary outcome measures included anxiety, depression, and clinical indicators. All participants were assessed at four time-points, at the beginning of the study (T1), after 12 weeks of the intervention (T2), immediately after 24-week intervention (T3), and at 48-week follow-up visit (T4).


Improvements in QoL were evident in both groups but the test group fared better than the control group at the 12th week (P < 0.01) and particularly in emotional well-being (P < 0.01) and breast cancer-specific well-being (P < 0.001). The test group showed an improvement in anxiety levels (P < 0.01), whereas the control group showed improvements in depression (P < 0.05) but there was no significant difference between groups (P > 0.05). Both groups showed improvements in immunological function and the test group fared better than the control in TNF-α levels (P < 0.05). The results in subjects who practiced more than 4 times and 6 h per week were similar to that of all subjects; however, the improvement in anxiety in the GLQG group was more obvious. There are positive correlations between QoL and anxiety and depression.


Both GLQG and physical stretching are beneficial during recovery following breast cancer. GLQC was more effective in terms of Qol improvements than physical stretching. Both programs brought improvements in anxiety or depression but had were comparable. GLQC group had a greater effect on immunological function than physical exercise.

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The authors thank the colleagues at School of Chinese Medicine, HKU for their advice, Chen Xiukun and Ken TSUN Wai-pan for excellent exercise guidance. The physical examination is supported by UNIMED Medical Institute Comprehensive Centre for Breast Diseases. We also appreciate Professor Colman McGrath from Faculty of Dentistry, the University of Hong Kong, for his English language proof-reading to improve the content of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Jianping Chen.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the University of Hong Kong/Hospital Authority Hong Kong West Cluster (HKU/HA HKW IRB, UW 12-046). All procedures performed in the study were in accordance with the ethical standards of HKU and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Pei Liu and Jieshu You—Co-first authors.

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Liu, P., You, J., Loo, W.T.Y. et al. The efficacy of Guolin-Qigong on the body-mind health of Chinese women with breast cancer: a randomized controlled trial. Qual Life Res 26, 2321–2331 (2017).

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  • Guolin-Qigong
  • RCT
  • Breast cancer
  • Quality of life
  • Immune function
  • Tumor marker