How Tai Chi and mind-body breathing May Help COPD Patients
April 25, 2021 -
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is associated with multiple psychosocial and behavioral factors. Harvard Medical School and Veterans Administration Boston Healthcare System teamed up to qualitatively explore cognitive, psychosocial, and behavioral changes in patients with COPD who participated in two different mind-body interventions compared to an education control.
They analyzed semi-structured qualitative exit interviews from a prospective, randomized pilot trial investigating 12-weeks of Tai Chi vs. mind-body breathing (MBB) vs. education (EDU) control in patients with moderate-severe COPD.
Tai Chi involved traditional movements, that integrate meditative breathing, while MBB focused mainly on meditative breathing techniques alone. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Qualitative analysis of randomly selected transcripts was performed by two independent reviewers using an iterative process to identify emergent themes informed by grounded theory methods until thematic saturation was reached. A total of 66 transcripts were reviewed (22 for each of the 3 groups). The mean age of the participants was 68.1 year: 58% of them were male and 42% were female.
Compared to EDU, more participants in Tai Chi and MBB noted improvements in awareness of self and the mind-body connection (e.g., body and breath awareness), knowledge of breathing techniques and integration of self-care skills with daily activities, self-efficacy for symptom management (particularly managing anxiety and dyspnea), acceptance of disease, physical function improvements (e.g., endurance, dyspnea, fatigue), and psychological well-being (particularly relaxation, emotion regulation and decreased reactivity).
Compared to MBB, those in Tai Chi shared more intention to continue with self-care behaviors, physical activity self-efficacy, and improved flexibility. All three groups, including EDU, noted increased social support and knowledge of disease. Those in EDU, however, had fewer mentions of processes related to behavior change, and less concrete changes in neurocognitive, psychological, and physical function domains.
The research team concluded that mind-body interventions including meditative breathing may impact behavior-related neurocognitive and emotional factors that improve self-care management and support positive behavioral changes in patients with COPD. The findings are published by the journal Public Library of Science one in April 2021.