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Tai Chi for Older Nurses: A Workplace Wellness Pilot Study
Oct 28, 2010 - As a recent issue of the journal Applied Nursing Research reported, the Office of Nursing Workforce at University of Vermont performed a pilot study to assess the feasibility of a Tai Chi workplace wellness program as a cost effective way of improving physical and mental health, reducing work related stress, and improving work productivity among older nurses in a hospital setting.

In this small study conducted at Northeastern Academic Medical Center, eleven older female nurses were recruited. Six of them were assigned to the Tai Chi group and asked to attend Tai Chi classes once a week offered at their worksite. Then they would practice on their own for 10 minutes each day at least 4 days per week for 15 weeks. At the same time, the 5 nurses assigned to the Control group received no intervention.

The researchers used several tools to measure the outcome of the trial: SF-36 Health Survey, Nursing Stress Scale (NSS), Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), Sit-and-Reach test, Functional Reach test, the Work Limitations Questionnaire, workplace injury and unscheduled time off. Then they compared the measurements of the two study groups descriptively and also compared the changes across time between the 2 groups.

The results of the comparison shows that the Tai Chi group took no unscheduled time-off hours, whereas, the control group was absent 49 hours during the study period. There was also a 3% increase in work productivity and significant improvement in functional reach compared to the control group. Other outcomes were not statistically significant.

This pilot study demonstrates the feasibility of Tai Chi with older female workers as a cost effective wellness option in the workplace; thus encouraging replication with a larger sample. Methodological implications were also addressed.




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