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Roslindale, Massachusetts 02131


The proposed study will determine whether Tai Chi is an effective and practical intervention to improve overall function and lower health care utilization in an expensive, vulnerable population of seniors that is more representative of many US communities than those previously studied. If the results are favorable, our study will also provide the necessary training and protocol manuals to replicate Tai Chi programs in senior housing facilities across the nation to help prevent, better manage, and overcome frailty among seniors.

Study summary:

Elderly people living in low-income housing facilities represent one of our nation's largest, most functionally impaired, economically disadvantaged, and understudied populations that account for a disproportionate share of Medicare spending. This revised competitive renewal application aims to improve the health and reduce the health care utilization of this population by conducting a cluster randomized controlled trial of Tai Chi exercises vs. health education and social calls in 16 housing facilities in cities surrounding Boston. The proposal builds upon previously successful studies by Drs. Lipsitz, Wayne, and others showing multiple benefits of Tai Chi exercises in elderly people with a variety of diseases and disabilities. A randomized, controlled pilot study supported by the current R37 grant that this application seeks to renew, showed that 12 weeks of Tai Chi exercises tailored to the abilities of frail seniors living in supportive housing facilities can improve balance, gait, and physical function. The proposed study aims are to determine the effects of Tai Chi exercises conducted at least twice weekly over a 6-month period on 1) functional performance measured by the Short Physical Performance Battery and 2) health care utilization determined from self-reported emergency room visits and hospitalizations in poor, multiethnic, elderly residents of low income housing facilities. Secondary outcomes will include person-centered measures such as physical function, cognition, psychological well-being, falls, and self-efficacy. We hypothesize that compared to the control intervention, Tai Chi will significantly improve physical function and reduce health care utilization. This study will prepare the necessary training and protocol manuals for widespread dissemination of Tai Chi programs in housing facilities across the nation. It will also provide estimates of potential Medicare cost savings that can be used to justify future health insurance payments for this intervention. The previous experience of the Co-Principal Investigators and their colleagues at Harvard Medical School and Brandeis University in aging research, clinical trials, functional assessment, Medicare claims analyses, and Tai Chi interventions will help assure the project's success.


Inclusion Criteria: - able to understand instructions in English - able to participate safely in Tai Chi exercises at least twice a week - expected to remain in the facility for 1 year - are fee-for-service Medicare Beneficiaries for the 3 study years - Able to stand/walk independently, without the help of another person Exclusion Criteria: - enrolled in a PACE, or a Special Needs Plan, since this would make it difficult to isolate the effects of Tai Chi on health care utilization. - Practice of Tai Chi for >3 years over lifetime, or more than weekly in prior 6 months - any unstable or terminal illness (e.g., unstable cardiovascular disease, active cancer, unstable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), advanced dementia, psychosis) - inability to maintain posture sitting or standing - inability to hear, see, or understand Tai Chi instructions and assessment questions.



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Roslindale, Massachusetts 02131
United States

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Site Status: N/A

Data Source: ClinicalTrials.gov

Date Processed: January 21, 2020

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