Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic, disabling disease that can greatly compromise health related quality of life (HRQOL). The aim of this study was to assess the impact of a 6-week twice/week Iyengar yoga (IY) program on HRQOL of young adults with RA compared to a usual-care waitlist control group.
The program was designed to improve the primary outcome of HRQOL including pain, as well as disability and psychological functioning in patients. Assessments were collected pre, post, and at 2-months following treatment. Weekly ratings of anxiety, depression, pain and sleep were also recorded. A total of 26 participants completed the intervention (yoga = 11; usual care waitlist = 15). All participants were female (mean age =28 years).
Overall attrition was low at 15%. On average, women in the yoga group attended 96% of the yoga classes. No adverse events were reported. Relative to the usual-care waitlist, women assigned to the yoga program showed significantly greater improvement on standardized measures of HRQOL, pain disability, general health, mood, fatigue, acceptance of chronic pain and self-efficacy regarding pain at post treatment. Almost half of the yoga group reported clinically meaningful symptom improvement. Analysis of the uncontrolled effects and maintenance of treatment effects showed improvements in HRQOL general health, pain disability and weekly ratings of pain, anxiety and depression that maintained at follow-up.
The findings suggest a brief IY intervention is a feasible and safe adjunctive treatment for young people with RA, leading to health related quality of life (HRQOL), pain disability, fatigue, and mood benefits. Moreover, improvements in quality of life, pain disability and mood persisted at the 2-month follow-up.