Comment Period Extended to 3/23/2015 for Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for FDAAA 801 and NIH Draft Reporting Policy for NIH-Funded Trials

Tai Chi Intervention for Chinese Americans With Depression

This study is ongoing, but not recruiting participants.
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Albert Yeung, Massachusetts General Hospital Identifier:
First received: June 12, 2012
Last updated: November 4, 2013
Last verified: November 2013

The purpose of this study is to conduct a pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT) that provides the feasibility, safety, and preliminary efficacy data required to design a large scale trial evaluating Tai Chi for Chinese Americans with major depressive disorder (MDD) who are not on antidepressant medications.

Condition Intervention
Behavioral: 12-week Tai Chi intervention
Behavioral: Education control group

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Endpoint Classification: Safety/Efficacy Study
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Single Blind (Investigator)
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Tai Chi Intervention for Chinese Americans With Depression

Further study details as provided by Massachusetts General Hospital:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Major depressive disorder response rate, as determined by Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D 17-item) [ Time Frame: Baseline, 12-weeks, 24-weeks ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]
    Response will be defined as having a 50% or greater improvement in HAM-D-17 score at the conclusion fo treatment, compared to baseline.

  • Major depressive disorder remission as measured by DSM-IV and Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D 17-item) [ Time Frame: Week 12, week 24 ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]
    Remission will require jointly the absence of the core symptoms of depression, with neither of the core features of DSM-IV depression (depressed mood or anhedonia) being reported at the threshold or subthershold level (using Chinese Bilingual SCID I/P interview) and HAM-D-17 score <8.

Estimated Enrollment: 60
Study Start Date: February 2012
Estimated Primary Completion Date: June 2014 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Experimental: 12-week Tai Chi intervention Behavioral: 12-week Tai Chi intervention
Tai Chi classes will be conducted weekly for one hour each for 12 weeks. Classes will begin with warm-up exercises designed to loosen the body, increase awareness of alignment and structural integration, improve efficiency of breathing, incorporate mindfulness and imagery into movement.
Active Comparator: Education control group
After 24 weeks, and upon completion of the study, each participant will be offered twelve weeks of Tai Chi twice weekly.
Behavioral: Education control group
The education control group will meet twice weekly for 12 weeks for one hour, and research staff will present didactic information modified from psychoeducation curriculums created by the Benson Henry Institute and a stress reduction study for depressed minority patients.
No Intervention: Waitlist control group
The waitlist control will not receive any intervention during the duration of the study. After 24 weeks, and upon completion of the study, each participant will be offered twelve weeks of Tai Chi twice weekly.

Detailed Description:

Aim #1: To evaluate the feasibility and safety of conducting a RCT of Tai Chi for Chinese American adults with MDD who are not on antidepressant medications. The investigators hypothesize that: a) the investigators can develop a Tai Chi intervention and depression-related measurement protocol for Chinese Americans with MDD; b) the investigators will be able to recruit non-pharmacologically treated Chinese Americans with MDD to participate in a randomized controlled Tai Chi study; c) participants will be compliant with the Tai Chi intervention and all testing protocols; d) the Tai Chi intervention will be safe and study staff will be able to effectively monitor participants' depressive symptoms and assure their safety during the study.

Aim #2: To collect preliminary data on the efficacy of a 12-week Tai Chi group intervention for Chinese Americans with MDD who are not on antidepressant medications to determine the effect size needed for a definitive RCT. The investigators hypothesize that at the conclusion of 12-weeks, Tai Chi participants, as compared to control subjects, will demonstrate a) greater improvement in depressive symptoms (Hamilton Depression Severity Index-17, Beck Depression Inventory), b) greater improvement in functional status, general health, and well being (Clinical Global Impressions Scale, The SF-36 Health Survey (SF-36®) for social functioning, Exercise Self-Efficacy, Mindfulness), and c) greater social support (Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support).

Aim #3: To characterize participants' experience in a trial of Tai Chi for Chinese Americans with MDD in order to optimally design a subsequent, more definitive study. Using mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative analyses), the investigators will identify the ethnocultural experience of Tai Chi among Chinese Americans with MDD, assess whether they view Tai Chi a more culturally acceptable alternative to conventional antidepressant therapy, explore the facilitators and barriers to adherence to the Tai Chi training protocol, identify characteristics of responders and non-responders to the Tai Chi intervention, and assess participants' willingness/intention to continue practice of Tai Chi beyond the study period. The investigators hypothesize that a) characteristics such as severity of illness, age, co-morbidities, and education level may distinguish responders from non-responders; b) participants with greater levels of class attendance and home practice will exhibit greater improvements in depressive symptoms; and c) participants who continue to practice Tai Chi after the 12-week training will maintain clinical improvements in depressive symptoms and a lower rate of relapse at the end of 3 additional months of follow-up compared to those who do not continue Tai Chi practice.


Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years to 80 Years
Genders Eligible for Study:   Both
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Self-identified as being of Chinese ethnicity and fluent in Mandarin and/or Cantonese
  • 18-80 years of age
  • Satisfy DSM-IV criteria for MDD
  • Baseline score of 14-20 on the 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D-17)
  • No regular (≥ 3 times/week for ≥ 2 months) Tai Chi training/practice or other forms of mind-body intervention in the past 6 months

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Primary psychiatric diagnosis other than MDD
  • History of psychosis, mania, or severe cluster B personality disorder, active ETOH or substance abuse/dependency disorder in the past 6 months
  • Unstable medical conditions as judged by investigators
  • Use or plan to use confounding treatments, including antidepressants and CAM treatments thought to have beneficial effects on mood, such as St. John's Wort, S-Adenosyl methionine (SAMe), omega-3 fatty acids, light therapy, conventional psychotherapy, mind-body interventions (e.g. Qigong, mindfulness training, muscle relaxation training, etc.)
  • Current active suicidal or self-injurious potential necessitating immediate treatment
  • Women who are pregnant
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT01619631

United States, Massachusetts
Massachusetts General Hospital Depression Clinical and Research Program
Boston, Massachusetts, United States, 02114
South Cove Community Health Center
Boston, Massachusetts, United States, 02111
Sponsors and Collaborators
Massachusetts General Hospital
Principal Investigator: Albert Yeung, MD, ScD Massachusetts General Hospital Depression Clinical and Research Program
  More Information

Responsible Party: Albert Yeung, Research Psychiatrist, Massachusetts General Hospital Identifier: NCT01619631     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 2011P001313, R21AT006123-01A1
Study First Received: June 12, 2012
Last Updated: November 4, 2013
Health Authority: United States: Institutional Review Board
United States: Federal Government

Keywords provided by Massachusetts General Hospital:
Tai Chi
Alternative medicine
Mind body medicine

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Depressive Disorder
Behavioral Symptoms
Mental Disorders
Mood Disorders processed this record on February 27, 2015