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Systematic review and meta-analysis: Tai Chi for preventing falls in older adults
  1. Zhi-Guan Huang1,
  2. Yun-Hui Feng2,
  3. Yu-He Li1,
  4. Chang-Sheng Lv1
  1. 1Engineering Research Center for Sports Assistive Devices Design, Guangzhou Sport University, Guangzhou, People's Republic of China
  2. 2Department of Physical Education, School of Physical Education and Sports Science, Guangzhou University, Guangzhou, People's Republic of China
  1. Correspondence to Professor Yu-He Li; Professor Yun-Hui Feng;


Objective It remains unclear whether Tai Chi is effective for preventing falls in older adults. We undertook this systematic review to evaluate the preventive effect of Tai Chi by updating the latest trial evidence.

Design Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Methods The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE and EMBASE were searched up to February 2016 to identify randomised trials evaluating Tai Chi for preventing falls in older adults. We evaluated the risk of bias of included trials using the Cochrane Collaboration's tool. Results were combined using random effects meta-analysis.

Outcome measures Number of fallers and rate of falls.

Results 18 trials with 3824 participants were included. The Tai Chi group was associated with significantly lower chance of falling at least once (risk ratio (RR) 0.80, 95% CI 0.72 to 0.88) and rate of falls (incidence rate ratio (IRR) 0.69, 95% CI 0.60 to 0.80) than the control group. Subgroup analyses suggested that the preventive effect was likely to increase with exercise frequency (number of fallers: p=0.001; rate of falls: p=0.007) and Yang style Tai Chi was likely to be more effective than Sun style Tai Chi (number of fallers: p=0.01; rate of falls: p=0.001). The results might be influenced by publication bias as the funnel plots showed asymmetry. Sensitivity analyses by sample size, risk of bias and comorbidity showed no major influence on the primary results.

Conclusions Tai Chi is effective for preventing falls in older adults. The preventive effect is likely to increase with exercise frequency and Yang style Tai Chi seems to be more effective than Sun style Tai Chi.

  • Tai Chi
  • Falls
  • Older adults
  • Meta-analysis
  • Systematic review

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  • Contributors Y-HF and Y-HL contributed to conception and design and manuscript revision. Z-GH and Y-HF contributed to selection and screening of trials included in this meta-analysis. Z-GH and C-SL contributed to data extraction and risk of bias assessment. Z-GH, C-SL and Y-HL contributed to data analysis. Z-GH and C-SL involved in writing of the paper.

  • Funding This study was funded by Guangdong Outstanding Young Teacher Training Program in Higher School (YQ2015104) and Science and Technology Plan Projects of Guangdong Province (2013B031600004).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data are available.