Red X iconGreen tick iconYellow tick icon


LL Picture for Tai ChiNew Zealand breast cancer patients experience various side effects during cancer treatment, resulting in reduced wellbeing and poor adherence to scheduled treatments.

However, there are few interventions to manage these side effects.

Tai Chi is a traditional Chinese martial art rooted in the Traditional Chinese Medicine. Tai Chi is a low-intensity physical exercise that combines slow, circular, fluid movements with deep breathing and relaxation. Previous research indicates benefits of Tai Chi for the health and wellbeing of breast cancer survivors (who have completed cancer treatment), but there have been no studies that have looked at the benefits of Tai Chi while treatment is still in progress.

We have developed an integrative Tai Chi (ANITA) program (consisting of peer support, health education, and Tai Chi exercise) designed around the specific needs for breast cancer patients undergoing cancer treatment. Prior to carrying out a large project, firstly we would like to see if our ANITA program is practical to run; if patients like it; and if practicing the ANITA program helps patients to manage and improve their symptoms and quality of life during breast cancer treatment.

Taking part in the study

Recruitment for this study will begin in late August.

We are aiming to invite 24 adults, both men and women, have completed breast cancer surgery at least 4 weeks ago, and are waiting for, or currently undergoing, cancer treatment (e.g. chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and/or hormonal therapy).

In addition to their scheduled cancer treatment at the Dunedin Public Hospital, participant will be randomly assigned to participate in the ANITA program straightaway or a condensed ANITA program at the end of the study. The peer support group and health seminars will be hosted by the Otago/Southland Division of the New Zealand Cancer Society monthly and every second month, respectively.

The Tai Chi classes will be taught by a trained Tai Chi instructor with two years' experience leading Tai Chi classes for people with chronic health issues and post-surgery.

Each class will take 60 minutes, and be held at the School of Physiotherapy Clinic twice a week for 12 weeks. At the end of class, participant will receive two sets of questionnaires to complete (at 12 weeks and 24 weeks after the beginning of their participation), so we can have a record of their symptom changes during and after this program.

More information

Thank you for taking time to read this summary. More detailed information is contained in the Participant Information Sheet.

If you are interested and/or would like to know more about the project, please contact the Principal Investigator Dr Lizhou Li.

Phone (03) 479 5694 or email

This project has been reviewed and approved by the New Zealand Health and Disability Ethics Committees, Reference: 17/STH/96.


2017 New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation Belinda Scott Fellowship.

Research team

Principal Investigator: Dr. Lizhou Liu School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago
Co-Investigator: Prof. David Baxter School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago

Clinician: Dr. Simone Petrich Department of Surgical Sciences, Southern DHB
Dr. Blair McLaren Oncology Department, Southern DHB
Dr. Lyndell Kelly Oncology Department, Southern DHB

Breast Care Nurse: Ms. Glenys Mitchell Breast Care Services, Southern DHB
Ms. Mary Grant Breast Care Services, Southern DHB
Ms. Janine Tallentire Breast Care Services, Southern DHB

News and events

18 December 2016- Otago Daily Times: Tai Chi trial at hospital
19 December 2016- 936中华网:中国博士获8万基金用于乳腺癌太极疗法
19 December 2016- World TV: TV news

Back to top