Eligible studies needed to be prospective controlled trials of internal qigong compared to any control intervention. Trials that used qigong as an adjunct to conventional treatment were eligible. Trials that included qigong as part of a complex treatment intervention or trials that used both internal and external qigong were excluded. Trials were excluded if pain was not a central symptom of the condition under investigation.
The authors did not state how many reviewers were involved in the selection of studies for the review.
Across the studies, treated conditions included low back pain, neck pain, fibromyalgia, cancer pain, labour pain and shoulder pain. One study focused on children. The other studies had adult participants with ages that ranging from 18 to 71 (where stated). Trials were from both Western and non-Western countries. Outcome measures were 100mm visual analogue scales and Likert scales. The number of qigong sessions ranged from four to about 24. Supervised interventions ranged from one to seven sessions weekly with a duration of 15 to 60 minutes per session. Control groups participated in a range of interventions including electromyography biofeedback, exercise, chemotherapy or were placed on a waiting list or received no treatment.