Managing Stress and Social Ties for Health Aging

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT01204021
Recruitment Status : Completed
First Posted : September 17, 2010
Last Update Posted : November 18, 2016
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
University of California, Los Angeles

Brief Summary:

There has been a dramatic rise from 46% to 59% in the percentage of households with only 1-2 people from 1970 to 2000. A 40% increase in the number of people living alone is projected for 2010. Social isolation is consistently one of the strongest predictors mortality in older adults. Recent research is demonstrating that stress plays an important role linking social isolation with poor health. Socially isolated older adults are more likely to feel chronically stressed and overwhelmed with everyday life demands. Furthermore, isolated adults respond to stress differently, both psychologically and physiologically. Socially isolated and lonely older adults show long-term elevations in "inflammatory cytokines", which are signaling molecules related by immune cells. These Inflammatory cytokines play a role in a number of age-related diseases including cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes and arthritis. Novel, readily useable interventions aimed at decreasing isolation and "re-calibrating" stress responses might be helpful to older adults.

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese form of calisthenics that promotes relaxation and decreases feelings of stress and as such, it may be a useful intervention for socially isolated, stressed older adults. However, its effects on stress responses are unknown. Tai Chi Chih (TCC) is a simplified, manualized, readily exportable form of Tai Chi particularly well-suited for older adults. This proposed study will test the effects of a TCC intervention with socially isolated older adults on loneliness, stress and health outcomes, including inflammatory assessment. Tai Chi-naïve participants who perceive themselves as socially isolated, as measured by the UCLA Loneliness Scale will be randomized to receive either Tai Chi or education control for a 12-week period. Subjects will undergo pre- and post-intervention stress assessment, including exposure to a psychological stress task, to assess whether Tai Chi affects how subjects physiologically and psychologically respond to stress.

Condition or disease Intervention/treatment Phase
Stress Behavioral: Tai Chi Chih Behavioral: Stress Education Control Not Applicable

Study Type : Interventional  (Clinical Trial)
Actual Enrollment : 26 participants
Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Factorial Assignment
Masking: None (Open Label)
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Managing Stress and Social Ties for Health Aging
Study Start Date : May 2008
Actual Primary Completion Date : August 2010
Actual Study Completion Date : August 2010

Arm Intervention/treatment
Experimental: Tai Chi Chih
12 weeks of physical exercise in the form of Tai Chi Chih
Behavioral: Tai Chi Chih
12 weeks of weekly classes of Tai Chi Chih
Other Names:
  • Tai Chi
  • exercise
  • relaxation
Active Comparator: Stress Education Control
Stress management education
Behavioral: Stress Education Control
Weekly meetings, for 2 hours for 12 weeks discussing issues related to stress education.
Other Names:
  • stress education
  • stress information

Primary Outcome Measures :
  1. Perceived Stress [ Time Frame: 4-8 months ]

Secondary Outcome Measures :
  1. Autonomic Activity and inflammatory signalling [ Time Frame: 4-8 months ]

Information from the National Library of Medicine

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Ages Eligible for Study:   60 Years and older   (Adult, Senior)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Adults > 60 years old
  • Have not done Tai Chi before
  • Live in Los Angeles area
  • Socially isolated
  • Women must be post menopausal

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Any physical debility that limits Tai Chi performance;
  • Cognitive impairment (< 23 on the Mini-Mental State Exam);
  • Current or recent history of smoking
  • Immune suppression resulting from neoplastic disease
  • Corticosteroid use or other therapy
  • Significant underlying illness that would interfere or prevent completion of the study
  • Acute conditions (e.g. viral infection w/in 2 weeks) that might confound interpretation of inflammatory data
  • Current or recent (within 1 month) use of illicit drugs.

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its identifier (NCT number): NCT01204021

Sponsors and Collaborators
University of California, Los Angeles
Principal Investigator: Sarosh J Motivala, Ph.D. University of California, Los Angeles

Publications of Results:
Responsible Party: University of California, Los Angeles Identifier: NCT01204021     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: AG028748-01-SST
First Posted: September 17, 2010    Key Record Dates
Last Update Posted: November 18, 2016
Last Verified: November 2016

Keywords provided by University of California, Los Angeles:
social isolation
autonomic activity
Perceived social isolation
Chronic stress