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A Pioneer in Using Tai Chi and Qigong for Cancer Care in Australia

December 21, 2017 - Incorporation of Tai Chi and Qigong into supportive care for cancer patients has been gaining momentum in western countries over the past few years. For example, a systematic review newly published by the Journal of Cancer Survivorship in December of 2017 shows that Tai Chi and Qigong shows promising outcomes in addressing cancer-related symptoms and Quality of Life in cancer survivors.

In Australia, there were no Tai Chi and Qigong programs in cancer centers until 2010 when a couple of researchers used Medical Qigong and other CAM approaches for cancer patients. After that, several hospitals in Australia, including Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH), Concord Repatriation General Hospital (CRGH), Royal North Shore Hospital (RNSH), and Sydney Adventist Hospital (SAH), have introduced Tai Chi and Qigong as part of their supportive care program.

The Lead Investigator of these 2 researches was Dr. Byeong Sang Oh, an ATCQA certified Tai Chi Master Instructor who holds a PhD in Medicine (integrative oncology) from the University of Sydney and Master of Applied Science in Acupuncture from RMIT University.

In charge of the cancer supportive care program for Tai Chi Qigong at Northern Sydney Cancer Centre, Dr. Oh has devoted special attention to integrate Tai Chi and Qigong into the supportive medical care for cancer patients.

In one of the aforementioned studies, a randomized control trial (RCT) of 162 cancer survivors, evaluated the safety and efficacy of Medical Qigong in cancer survivors. This study found that Medical Qigong had a positive influence on Quality of Life (QOL), psychological and physical functioning, and led to a decrease in inflammation levels among cancer survivors. Overall, these studies suggested that integrative oncology clinical medicine can increase survivors' satisfaction and lead to improved QOL in the cancer population.

The significance of the integrative oncology clinical medicine approach was recognized nationally and internationally in the oncology community, including: American Society of Oncology (ASCO), Clinical Oncological Society of Australia (COSA), European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) and the Society of Integrative Oncology (SIO), as well as academic communities and cancer survivors. The study was published by Annals of Oncology, the official journal of the European Society for Medical Oncology in March, 2010.

In another study, released by the Asia-Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology, an Australian publication, in December, 2010, 381 cancer patients from oncology departments at three university teaching hospitals were surveyed. This study found that a substantial proportion of cancer patients (65%) used at least one form of CAM therapy, but a large number of them (80%) did not disclose their use of CAM to their health care providers. The main reason for the use of CAM was to extend cancer patient survival. One interesting finding was that patients who discussed their use of CAM with their oncologist were more satisfied with their consultation than those who had not.

With all these achievements, Dr. Oh has never stopped promoting Tai Chi and Qigong for cancer patients. In his most recent publication, a research paper appearing in the June, 2017 issue of the journal Support Care Cancer, he and several other experts from the University of Sydney compared integrative medicine (IM) centers in the USA and Germany. Their goal was to describe the IM model in leading centers operating in the USA and Germany.

By identifying the model, Dr. Oh and his teammates concluded that delivering IM health care requires a model of care that encourages interaction between all stakeholders. Developing a comprehensive conceptual framework to support IM practice is required to facilitate efficient and safe patient care.




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