A Brief Body-Mind-Spirit Group Therapy for Chinese Medicine Stagnation Syndrome : A Randomized Controlled Trial

Siu Man NG*, Lingli LENG, Rainbow T.H. HO, Zhangjin ZHANG, Qi WANG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Stagnation syndrome, a diagnostic entity in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), is characterized by mind-body obstruction-like symptoms. Although TCM has long-established symptom-relief treatments, a comprehensive mind-body intervention was called for. Purpose. The study evaluated the efficacy of a six-session body-mind-spirit (BMS) group therapy for persons with stagnation syndrome. Method. A 2-arm randomized controlled trial design was adopted. The control group received a parallel general TCM instruction course. Both groups completed a pretest (T0), posttest (T1), and 2-month follow-up assessment (T2). The measures included self-report scales on stagnation, depression, anxiety, physical distress, daily functioning, and positive and negative affect; the other measure was of salivary cortisol, a biological marker of stress. Results. Data on 111 adults with stagnation syndrome were included in the analysis. Completion rates were high (over 87%) for both the intervention and control groups. Repeated-measures multivariate MANOVA revealed a significant combined effect with large effect size (eta-squared = 0.42). Repeated-measures ANOVA further revealed that the intervention group showed significant improvements in stagnation, the primary outcome, with medium effect size (eta-squared = 0.11). The intervention group also showed significant improvements in depression, physical distress, everyday functioning, and negative affect (eta-squared = 0.06 to 0.13). Post hoc analysis revealed that the intervention group showed significant improvements over the control group in cortisol level at 2-month follow-up assessment (T0 versus T2) with small effect size (eta-squared = 0.05), but not at posttest (T0 versus T1). Conclusions. Overall, the findings indicate that our brief BMS group therapy intervention for stagnation syndrome is efficacious. Moreover, the intervention resulted in a number of substantial improvements in the physical and mental health domains.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8153637
JournalEvidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research is funded by Research Grant Council of the Hong Kong SAR Government (Ref. no. GRF 748013). The authors thank the staff of the Chinese Medicine Clinics of the Kwong Wah Hospital and the School of Chinese Medicine, the University of Hong Kong, for assisting in recruitment of participants to the study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Siu-man Ng et al.


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