The Effects of Qigong for Adults with Chronic Pain: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Zhenggang Bai, Zhen Guan, Yuan Fan, Chuan Liu, Kehu Yang, Bin Ma, Bei Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A systematic review was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of qigong as a treatment for chronic pain. Five electronic databases were searched from their date of establishment until July 2014. The review included 10 randomized clinical trials (RCTs) that compared the impacts of qigong on chronic pain with waiting list or placebo or general care. Random effect models and standard mean differences were used to present pain scores. A total of 10 RCTs met inclusion criteria. There was a statistically significant difference on reducing chronic pain between internal qigong and control (SMD: -1.23 95% CI=-2.23, -0.24 p=0.02), external qigong and general care (SMD: -1.53 95% CI=-2.15,-0.91 p<0.05), external qigong and placebo (SMD: -0.51 95% CI=-0.95,-0.06p=0.03), and internal qigong for chronic neck pain at 6 months (SMD: -1.00 95% CI=-1.94,-0.06 p=0.04). The differences between external qigong and control, external qigong and waiting list, internal qigong and waiting list, and external for premenstrual syndromes were not significant. This study showed that internal qigong generated benefits on treating some chronic pain with significant differences. External qigong showed nonsignificant differences in treating chronic pain. Higher quality randomized clinical trials with scientific rigor are needed to establish the effectiveness of qigong in reducing chronic pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1525-1539
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Chinese Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015


  • Chronic Pain
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Qigong
  • Systematic Review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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