The effect of Tai Chi on four chronic conditions—cancer, osteoarthritis, heart failure and COPD: a systematic review and meta-analyses

Br J Sports Med doi:10.1136/bjsports-2014-094388

Background Many middle-aged and older persons have more than one chronic condition. Thus, it is important to synthesise the effectiveness of interventions across several comorbidities. The aim of this systematic review was to summarise current evidence regarding the effectiveness of Tai Chi in individuals with four common chronic conditions—cancer, osteoarthritis (OA), heart failure (HF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Methods 4 databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL and SPORTDiscus) were searched for original articles. Two reviewers independently screened the titles and abstracts and then conducted full-text reviews, quality assessment and finally data abstraction. 33 studies met the inclusion criteria. Meta-analyses were performed on disease-specific symptoms, physiological outcomes and physical performance of each chronic condition. Subgroup analyses on disease-specific symptoms were conducted by categorising studies into subsets based on the type of comparison groups.

Results Meta-analyses showed that Tai Chi improved or showed a tendency to improve physical performance outcomes, including 6-min walking distance (6MWD) and knee extensor strength, in most or all four chronic conditions. Tai Chi also improved disease-specific symptoms of pain and stiffness in OA.

Conclusions The results demonstrated a favourable effect or tendency of Tai Chi to improve physical performance and showed that this type of exercise could be performed by individuals with different chronic conditions, including COPD, HF and OA.

via The effect of Tai Chi on four chronic conditions—cancer, osteoarthritis, heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a systematic review and meta-analyses — Chen et al. — British Journal of Sports Medicine.


Health matters is a new resource for public health professionals. It is designed to support commissioning and delivering services across local areas.

A quit smoking resource is the first of a planned series. Future editions will include tobacco, obesity, alcohol, antimicrobial resistance, tuberculosis, early years and dementia, with some editions looking at other areas of PHE’s mandated functions.

Alzheimergate? When miscommunication met sensationalism

Lancet: Volume 386, No. 9999, p1109, 19 September 2015

On Sept 5, The Lancet was alerted by a UK Government source to the impending publication of a Nature paper allegedly about the possible transmission of Alzheimer’s disease. The source was anxious about the likely media coverage and the potential for a public health scare. Although the UK’s Science Media Centre was involved in helping to communicate the findings reported in the paper accurately, our source urged us to consider what we might do to reduce further the risk of a scare. We wrote to the Science Media Centre, explaining our understanding of the potential alarm and asking if we could help in some way. The Science Media Centre did not think the paper by John Collinge and Sebastian Brandner was unduly alarmist. It noted that several highly experienced press officers were working hard on the communication of the research findings to prevent any possibility of a scare. They added that if there were alarmist headlines, it would not be for the want of trying to prevent them.

On Sept 10, the UK newspapers took a very different angle than predicted, or hoped for, by our colleagues at the Science Media Centre. Ranging from “Alzheimer’s may be a transmissible infection” in The Independent to “You can catch Alzheimer’s” in The Daily Mirror or “Alzheimer’s bombshell” inThe Daily Express, the general tone of the headlines was indeed deeply alarmist. Some news sources tried to redress the harm done. The BBC ran a story on its website saying there was “No evidence to support the headlines”. Meanwhile, in many other countries, the story was either not covered at all, or news headlines at least included a question mark.

Read the full article via Alzheimergate? When miscommunication met sensationalism – The Lancet.

Making integration a reality


The Good Governance Institute has published Making integration a reality: a reflection on the health + care conference 2015. This short paper brings together some of the themes which emerged from the Health + Care conference held early in the year. It covers aspects of integration, including links between health and other social policies such as housing; the role of data and IT; and physical and mental health integration. Emphasising the prominence of localism, it also describes a number of examples where these different aspects of integration have been incorporated into local action plans.

Removing the barriers to excellent patient care


The Royal College of Physicians has published Putting the pieces together: removing the barriers to excellent patient care.

This report outlines many of the structural and systematic challenges faced by patients and presents a vision of how to reform and improve the systems and structures that underpin the NHSAccompanying the report is a practical guide for physicians, working in hospitals and communities across England, to help them play their part in improving the way that NHS services can be planned, commissioned and funded.

Learning disabilities: improving access to psychological therapies

The Mental Health Foundation has published Learning Disabilities: IAPT Positive Practice Guide.  This guide is aimed at those who work in, commission, or refer to the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services. It provides useful information regarding how best to support people with learning disabilities to access their local IAPT service, including practical examples of how some teams have made reasonable adjustments to achieve this.


England has the potential to have the lowest disease burden in the world

A new PHE led study ranks the diseases and risks that cause death and disability in England.

A new Public Health England led study published in The Lancet ranks the diseases and risk factors that cause death and disability in England compared with other high-income countries. It reveals the nation’s potential to have the lowest total disease burden (years of life lost to death and lived with disability) in the world.

Between 1990 and 2013, life expectancy in England increased by 5.4 years: one of the biggest increases compared with the other EU countries

E-cigarettes: an emerging public health consensus

Public Health England and other UK public health organisations have issued a joint statement on E-cigarettes.   All organisations agree that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than smoking, and that the evidence suggests that the health risks posed by e-cigarettes are relatively small by comparison but studies must continue into the long term effects.  The organisations acknowledge that e-cigarettes are the most popular way in which smokers try to quit smoking, rather than using stop smoking services, but that these services remain the most effective way for smokers to quit the habit and remain stopped.

Additional link: Royal Society for public health press release


This briefing is developed from the inaugural NHS Value Lecture given by Professor Sir Muir Gray, which was hosted at the NHS Confederation annual conference and exhibition in June 2015.

The briefing describes how the NHS can change the way it uses public resources over the next five years.


Full reference: A culture of stewardship: The responsibility of NHS leaders to deliver better value healthcare