Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 27, Issue 10, pp 3701–3716 | Cite as

The effects of Tai Chi on quality of life of cancer survivors: a systematic review and meta-analysis

  • Xiaosha Ni
  • Raymond Javan Chan
  • Patsy Yates
  • Wenyi Hu
  • Xianhong Huang
  • Yan LouEmail author
Review Article



To assess the effects of Tai Chi on quality of life (QOL) of cancer survivors.


The following databases were searched: PubMed, Cochrane CENTRAL, EBSCO (including MEDLINE, CINAHL, and other databases), ScienceDirect, CNKI, Wangfang Data, and CQVIP until April 25, 2018. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) published in English or Chinese examining the effects of Tai Chi intervention for cancer survivors were included. The primary outcome was QOL; the secondary outcomes were limb function/muscular strength, immune function indicators, cancer-related fatigue (CRF), and sleep disturbance. Methodological quality was assessed using the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool. Results of RCTs were pooled with mean difference (MD) or standardized mean difference (SMD) with 95% confidence intervals (CI). Quality of evidence for each outcome was assessed with the GRADE system.


Twenty-two RCTs were included in this review. Tai Chi improved the physical (SMD 0.34, 95%CI 0.09, 0.59) and mental health (SMD 0.60, 95%CI 0.12, 1.08) domains of quality of life. The intervention improved the limb/muscular function of breast cancer survivors (SMD 1.19, 95%CI 0.63, 1.75) and in mixed samples of cancer survivors reduced the levels of cortisol (MD − 0.09, 95%CI − 0.16, − 0.02), alleviated CRF (SMD − 0.37, 95%CI − 0.70, − 0.04), and promoted sleep (SMD − 0.37, 95%CI − 0.72, − 0.02).


There is low-level evidence suggesting that Tai Chi improves physical and mental dimensions of QOL and sleep. There is moderate-level evidence suggesting Tai Chi reduces levels of cortisol and CRF and improves limb function. Additional studies with larger sample sizes and with higher-quality RCT designs comparing different regimens of Tai Chi are warranted.


Tai Chi Cancer survivors Quality of life Cancer-related fatigue Limb function Sleep 



This work was supported by the Zhejiang Provincial Natural Science Foundation, LQ17H160014, and China Scholarship Council, 201708330161.

Conflict of interest

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Share of data

We have full control of all meta-analysis data and we agree to allow the journal to review the data if requested.

Supplementary material

520_2019_4911_MOESM1_ESM.docx (875 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 874 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hangzhou Normal UniversityHangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Queensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.Princess Alexandra HospitalWoolloongabbaAustralia
  4. 4.Royal Brisbane and Women’s HospitalHerstonAustralia

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