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THU0469 Comparative effectiveness of tai chi versus aerobic exercise for fibromyalgia: a randomized controlled trial
  1. C Wang1,
  2. C Schmid2,
  3. R Fielding3,
  4. W Harvey1,
  5. K Reid3,
  6. LL Price1,
  7. J Driban1,
  8. R Kalish1,
  9. R Rones4,
  10. T McAlindon1
  1. 1Tufts Medical Center, Boston
  2. 2Brown University School of Public Health, Providence
  3. 3Tufts University
  4. 4Center for Mind-Body Therapies, Boston, United States


Background Fibromyalgia is a complex disorder with strong psychological and pain components. Tai Chi is an integrated mind-body approach that enhances both physical and mental health and has great potential to treat fibromyalgia (1–2).

Objectives We aimed to investigate whether Tai Chi is more effective with longer lasting effects than aerobic exercise.

Methods We conducted a 52-week, single-blind, randomized trial of Tai Chi vs. aerobic exercise for fibromyalgia (ACR 1990 and 2010 diagnostic criteria). Participants were randomized to 1 of 4 Tai Chi interventions: 12 or 24 weeks of Tai Chi once or twice per week, or aerobic exercise held twice per week for 24 weeks. The primary endpoint was change in the Revised Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQR) score at 24 weeks. Secondary endpoints included change in patient's global assessment, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale (HADS), Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), arthritis self-efficacy scale (ASES-8), and quality of life. The comparative efficacy of the five groups was determined using longitudinal models based on the intent-to-treat principal.

Results The mean age of subjects was 52 years (SD 12), mean years of body pain of 9 years (SD 8), 92% were women, and 61% were white. Treatment groups did not differ in baseline outcome expectation. The average of all 4 Tai Chi groups, compared to aerobic exercise, showed significant improvements in FIQR scores, patient's global, anxiety, and self-efficacy. All other outcomes favored Tai Chi over aerobic exercise (Table 1). The Tai Chi treatment with the same dosage as the aerobic group demonstrated an even larger effect for FIQR and for most other outcomes. The benefit of Tai Chi was consistent across instructors.

Table 1.

Between-Group Differences in Outcomes at Week 24

Conclusions Tai Chi is more effective than aerobic exercise and can be considered as an important therapeutic option for patients with fibromyalgia.


  1. Jones KD. Recommendations for resistance training in patients with fibromyalgia. Arthritis Res Ther 2015;17:258.

  2. Wang C, Schmid CH, Rones R, et al. A randomized trial of tai chi for fibromyalgia. N Engl J Med 2010;363:743–54.


Disclosure of Interest None declared

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