Clinician Article

The effects of Tai Chi on fall prevention, fear of falling and balance in older people: a meta-analysis.

  • Logghe IH
  • Verhagen AP
  • Rademaker AC
  • Bierma-Zeinstra SM
  • van Rossum E
  • Faber MJ, et al.
Prev Med. 2010 Sep-Oct;51(3-4):222-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2010.06.003. Epub 2010 Jun 15. (Review)
PMID: 20558197
Read abstract
  • Geriatrics
    Relevance - 6/7
    Newsworthiness - 5/7
  • Public Health
    Relevance - 5/7
    Newsworthiness - 4/7
  • Family Medicine (FM)/General Practice (GP)
    Relevance - 5/7
    Newsworthiness - 3/7
  • General Internal Medicine-Primary Care(US)
    Relevance - 5/7
    Newsworthiness - 3/7


OBJECTIVE: Tai Chi (TC) is an exercise training that is becoming increasingly popular as an intervention for single fall prevention. This meta-analysis was performed to evaluate the efficacy of TC on fall rate, fear of falling and balance in older people.

METHODS: Randomized controlled trials published between 1988 and January 2009 were included. In the Netherlands (2009) we used random effects models for the analyses, with data reported as incidence rate ratios (IRR) for falls and standardized mean differences (SMD) for fear of falling and balance.

RESULTS: Nine trials (representing 2203 participants) were included in the analyses. Compared with exercise controls, TC participants showed significant improvements in fall rates (2 trials included, IRR: 0.51, 95% CI 0.38-0.68) and static balance (2 trials included, SMD: 0.47, 95% CI 0.23-0.72). Compared with non-exercise controls, no improvement was found for TC participants in fall rates (5 trials, IRR: 0.79, 95% CI 0.60-1.03) or static balance (2 trials, SMD: 0.30, 95% CI -0.50-1.10), but a significant improvement was found for fear of falling (SMD: 0.37, 95% CI=0.03-0.70).

CONCLUSIONS: Currently there is insufficient evidence to conclude whether TC is effective in fall prevention, decreasing fear of falling and improving balance in people over age 50 years.

Clinical Comments

Public Health

This is a great area in need of further study. Unfortunately, given the findings there is little guidance and thus little impact on current clinical practice.

Register for free access to all Professional content

Want the latest in aging research? Sign up for our email alerts.
© 2012 - 2019 McMaster University | 1280 Main Street West | Hamilton, Ontario L8S4L8 | +1 905-525-9140 | Terms Of Use