Prospective study of new participants in a community-based mind-body training program

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

Mind-body practices such as yoga are widely popular, but little is known about how such exercises impact health-related quality of life.

OBJECTIVE

To measure changes in health-related quality of life associated with 3 months of mind-body training as practiced in community-based settings.

DESIGN

Prospective cohort study.

SETTING

Eight centers for practice of mind-body training.

PARTICIPANTS

One hundred ninety-four English-speaking adults who had taken no more than 10 classes at the centers prior to enrollment in the study. One hundred seventy-one (88%) returned the 3-month follow-up questionnaire.

INTERVENTION

Administration of the SF-36 questionnaire at the start of training and after 3 months.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS

At baseline, new participants in mind-body training reported lower scores than U.S. norms for 7 of 8 domains of the SF-36: mental health, role emotional, social, vitality, general health, body pain, and role physical (P<.002 for all comparisons). After 3 months of training, within-patient change scores improved in all domains (P<.0001), including a change of +15.5 (standard deviation ±21) in the mental health domain. In hierarchical regression analysis, younger age (P=.0003), baseline level of depressive symptoms (P=.01), and reporting a history of hypertension (P=.0054) were independent predictors of greater improvement in the SF-36 mental health score. Five participants (2.9%) reported a musculoskeletal injury.

CONCLUSIONS

New participants in a community-based mind-body training program reported poor health-related quality of life at baseline and moderate improvements after 3 months of practice. Randomized trials are needed to determine whether benefits may be generalizable to physician-referred populations.

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