The Limitations of T’ai Chi as a Cost-Effective (Population Level) Exercise Program – Guest Blog by Prof Caroline Finch

This blog is in response to: T’ai Chi Gone Viral! The World Reports on Myeong Soo Lee and Edzard Ernst’s Systematic Review (BJSM blog May 27)


Another important aspect to consider when promoting T’ai Chi (and those comparable) exercise programs, is their cost-effectiveness, particularly at the population level.
We conducted an epidemiological cost modelling of population-wide T’ai Chi delivery for community dwelling older people in Australia (Day et al, Injury Prevention, 2010 16: 321-326).

Whilst we agree that there are likely to be many individual and other benefits to T’ai Chi, we also concluded that “Substantial investment in, and high population uptake of, T’ai-chi would be required to have a large effect on falls and fall-related hospitalisation rates.” Some specific delivery and uptake factors that could be addressed to ensure that T’ai Chi programs could provide good value for limited falls prevention resources are:

1. Reducing the program cost delivery per participant

and;

2. Ensuring higher population uptake than was able  to be modelled in the 4 T’ai Chi programs reviewed in our paper.

Professor Caroline Finch is a NHMRC Principal Research Fellow at the  Australian Centre for Research into Sports Injury and its Prevention (ACRISP), Monash Injury Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia.  You can follow her on Twitter @CarolineFinch

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