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J Altern Complement Med. 2014 Aug;20(8):606-17. doi: 10.1089/acm.2013.0348. Epub 2014 Jul 29.

Qualitative analysis of a controlled trial of qigong for fibromyalgia: advancing understanding of an emerging health practice.

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1 Department of Pharmacology, Dalhousie University , Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada .



A randomized controlled trial (RCT) and an extension trial of qigong (Chaoyi Fanhuan qigong [CFQ]) in patients with fibromyalgia were recently completed. In the present study, a qualitative analysis of comments from the RCT was undertaken using motivation and amount of practice to determine whether initial experiences provided information relevant to outcomes.


Participants in the RCT received instruction in qigong (level 1 CFQ), practiced 45 min/day for 8 weeks and continued practice to 6 months; open-ended qualitative comments on experiences were invited at 8 weeks and 4 and 6 months. Extension trial participants received further instruction (level 2 CFQ) and practiced regularly for 8 weeks-6 months. Comments from the original RCT were considered as narratives for the extension trial subgroup (n=20) and thematically, according to amount of practice, for all participants who completed the RCT (n=73).


Narrative comments from the RCT for those who completed the extension trial (n=13) and those who withdrew from that trial (n=7) were considered separately. Participants reporting benefits within the first 8 weeks were more likely to maintain practice and report continued benefits at 4-6 months than those who withdrew from the trial. Thematic comments for all who completed the RCT (n=73) were considered in relation to amount of practice (per protocol, intermediate, minimal). Participants who practiced per protocol during the initial 8 weeks (≥5 hours/wk) were more likely to maintain practice over 4-6 months and to report beneficial health effects from qigong.


This retrospective qualitative analysis of information collected in an RCT of qigong for fibromyalgia indicates that favorable initial experiences with the practice over 8 weeks predispose to continued practice and more health effects. Future individual trials and meta-analyses of qigong will need to attend to the amount, and potentially quality, of practice undertaken in considering trial outcomes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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