Abstract ID: 3563

Primary Topic: Mind-body (including meditation and yoga)

Exploring Mechanisms of Tai Chi for Improving Quality of Life and Depression Symptoms in Heart Failure Patients
Christina M Luberto, PhD; Roger B Davis, ScD, , Boston, MA, United States; Peter M Wayne, PhD, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, United States; Gloria Yeh, MD, MPH, , Boston, MA, United States

Late Breaker: No


Many heart failure patients report elevated depression symptoms and poor quality of life (QoL). Our randomized controlled trial previously showed that tai chi exercise improves these outcomes in heart failure patients but the mechanisms are unclear. As a group-based exercise, tai chi may improve social support and behavioral activation (e.g., general activity levels, independent of intensity or caloric expenditure), two key factors that reduce depression symptoms. We explored whether tai chi is associated with greater improvements in social support and behavioral activation (amount of activity, frequency of activity) as compared to an active control, and whether changes in these variables are correlated with improved depression symptoms.

Methods/Session Format

Participants (N = 100; Mage = 67.35, SD = 12.00; 64% male; 86% white) were randomized to a 12-week tai chi or health education control group and completed self-report measures at baseline and endpoint.


Amount of activity (i.e., number of activities completed in the past month) decreased in the control group (ΔM = -1.26) but remained stable in the tai chi group (ΔM = .36; group by time interaction p = .02). There was a trend for greater improvements in activity frequency (i.e., number of times various activities were preformed in the past month) in the tai chi group (ΔM = 17.89) compared to the control group (ΔM = 13.11; group by time interaction p = .06). Activity changes were not correlated with changes in depression or QoL (p’s > .05). For social support, there was no significant group by time interaction (p > .05), but individual-level increases in social support were correlated with decreased depression symptoms for tai chi participants (r = -.32, p = .03).


Tai chi may protect against declines in activity levels, and increases in social support may play a role in tai chi-related improvements in depression symptoms.