August 19, 2016 - The VA (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) offices in Los Angeles teamed up with UCLA and RAND Corporation to create a comprehensive map that visually describes the volume and focus of Tai Chi research reporting health outcomes. The map was published in July, 2016.
The map is based on 107 systematic reviews. The research team searched 11 electronic databases from inception to February 2014, screened reviews of reviews, and consulted with topic experts. They used a bubble plot to graphically display clinical topics, literature size, number of reviews, and a broad estimate of effectiveness.
Two thirds of the reviews were published in the last five years. The topics with the largest number of published randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were general health benefits (51 RCTs), psychological well-being (37 RCTs), interventions for older adults (31 RCTs), balance (27 RCTs), hypertension (18 RCTs), fall prevention (15 RCTs), and cognitive performance (11 RCTs).
The map identified a number of areas with evidence of a potentially positive treatment effect on patient outcomes, including Tai Chi for hypertension, fall prevention outside of institutions, cognitive performance, osteoarthritis, depression, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pain, balance confidence, and muscle strength. However, identified reviews cautioned that firm conclusions cannot be drawn due to methodological limitations in the original studies and/or an insufficient number of existing research studies.
Conclusions: Tai Chi has been applied in diverse clinical areas, and for a number of these, systematic reviews have indicated promising results. The evidence map provides a visual overview of Tai Chi research volume and content.