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Tai Chi for heart attack survivors: qualitative insights
  1. Lisa Conboy1,2,
  2. Julie Krol3,
  3. Jose Tomas3,
  4. Gloria Y Yeh1,4,
  5. Peter Wayne4 and
  6. Elana Salmoirago-Blotcher3
  1. 1 Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  2. 2 New England School of Acupuncture, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA
  3. 3 Miriam Hospital, Brown University Warren Alpert Medical School, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
  4. 4 Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Lisa Conboy, Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, Boston, USA; lisaconboy{at}


Objectives Cardiac rehabilitation (CR) programmes are standard of care for patients following a coronary event. While such exercise-based secondary prevention programme do offer benefits, they are used by less than 30% of eligible patients and attrition within these programmes is high. This project is a nested qualitative assessment of a pilot programme considering Tai Chi (TC) as an alternative to CR. We hypothesised that TC may overcome several key barriers to CR.

Methods A semistructured focus group agenda was used to assess three key domains of feasibility: (1) patients’ experiences, (2) reasons/barriers for not having attended CR and (3) any improvements in physical activity and other secondary outcomes (quality of life, weight, sleep). A thematic analysis was used to better understand the key concepts.

Results This high-risk group of patients reported that they enjoyed TC exercise, and felt confident and safe doing it. TC practice was reported to support other types of physical activity allowing for a generalisation of positive effects.

Discussion This analysis is consistent with published reports of TC practice improving mood and psychological well-being. Qualitative methods allowed us to find emergent experiential reports of behaviour change factors found in established behaviour change theories.

  • cardiac rehabilitation
  • rehabilitation
  • integrative medicine

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  • Contributors LC contributed to manuscript, parent project planning, planned and executed qualitative substudy. JK contributed to manuscript and program administration. JT contributed to manuscript and assisted with analysis of qualitative substudy. GY and PW contributed to manuscript and parent project planning. ES-B conceived of the study, obtained funding, and contributed to the parent project planning and manuscript.

  • Funding This study was funded by National Institutes of Health grant NCCIH (R34AT007569). Dr. Yeh was supported by NIH NCCIH K24AT009465. Dr. Wayne was supported by NIH NCCIH K24 AT009282.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Parental/guardian consent obtained.

  • Ethics approval The Institutional Review Board at the Miriam Hospital approved this study. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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