UMass Boston

HELP Study

Principal Investigators: Dr. Tongjian You and Dr. Suzanne Leveille

We are a team of researchers in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Boston and from other institutions in the Boston area, working together to conduct research on mind-body exercise to help older adults living with chronic pain. The HELP 2 builds on our original HELP study to continue to study the mind-body exercise known as Tai Chi, as a therapeutic approach to helping older adults who live with chronic musculoskeletal pain and are at risk for falls. Many research studies have shown that Tai Chi can help prevent falls in older people. Those who have musculoskeletal pain especially in 2 or more joint areas have a particular risk for having falls. It is possible that Tai Chi might be especially beneficial for this group because it might also reduce pain and its consequences for daily activities.

The original HELP study took place from 2014 to 2017, and was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health (NIH R21 AG043883). It was a pilot study to compare mind-body exercise, Tai Chi, to a gentle physical exercise in older people who had chronic pain. A total of 54 people joined the study and the results suggest that Tai Chi might reduce pain and risk for falls but that a larger study is needed to confirm the findings. There are several things we need to do to prepare for this larger study. This collection of smaller pilot studies is what we are currently calling the HELP 2 study. This is funded by a new grant from the National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health (NIH R56AG062737). We are seeking to understand better what would interest older adults with pain in joining a Tai Chi study, learning ways to recruit large numbers of older adults to join our research study and also testing some updated approaches to our Tai Chi program. The goal is to develop a strong research plan and obtain funding for the large Tai Chi trial before long.

We are looking for participants for this important research! We will be recruiting seniors in the coming months to join us for focus group discussions, recruitment pilot studies, and a 4-week demonstration Tai Chi program based on our updated protocols. The research team is very excited to be conducting this new set of pilot studies over the next year (2020-2021). Ultimately, we hope to contribute new knowledge about ways to reduce chronic pain and improve mobility so that can achieve the best quality of life possible. 

The HELP 2 Research Study Team
College of Nursing and Health Sciences
University of Massachusetts Boston
100 Morrisey Blvd.
Boston, MA 02125

Download Documentation for Participants