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Results of a Pilot Yoga Intervention to Improve Pediatric Cancer Patients' Quality of Life and Physical Activity and Parents' Well-being

Orsey, Andrea D. MD, MSCE; Park, Crystal L. PhD; Pulaski, Regan BS; Shankar, Nilani L. MA; Popp, Jill M. PhD; Wakefield, Dorothy MS

doi: 10.1097/01.REO.0000000000000052
Research Reports

Background and Purpose: Yoga is increasingly proving beneficial in improving distress, pain, physical activity, and health-related quality of life (QOL) in adult patients with cancer, but few studies have examined the efficacy of yoga therapy for pediatric patients with cancer. We aimed to study the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of a yoga intervention for pediatric cancer patients in active treatment and for their families.

Methods: We conducted 2 separate studies: (1) a survey of 20 patients and parents regarding preferences (eg, convenient days and times), experiences, and expectations regarding yoga (including barriers and positive expectancies); and (2) an 8-week single-arm clinical trial of a yoga intervention in 10 children and their family members. Targeted outcomes of the clinical trial were patients' fatigue, QOL, and physical activity. Secondary outcomes were caregivers' well-being (QOL and burden).

Results: Study 1 demonstrated fairly high levels of interest from patients and family members. Study 2 demonstrated improved patients' and parents' QOL pre- to post–yoga intervention.

Conclusions: Parents and patients found the intervention highly acceptable. Conducting the intervention in the context of active cancer treatment proved feasible. Despite limited statistical power, QOL of patients doing yoga improved. Our findings support the notion that yoga for pediatric cancer patients during active treatment is feasible and potentially helpful in improving both patients' and parents' well-being.

1Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Connecticut Children's Medical Center, Hartford, CT

2Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist, Department of Pediatrics, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Hartford, CT

3Professor, Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT

4Clinical Research Associate, Clinical Trials Unit-Hematology/Oncology, Connecticut Children's Medical Center, Hartford, CT

5Psychology PhD Candidate, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT

6Senior Researcher, LEGO Foundation, Billund, Denmark

7Research Associate II, UConn Health, Center for Public Health and Health Policy, Farmington, CT

Correspondence: Andrea D. Orsey, MD, MSCE, Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Connecticut Children's Medical Center, 282 Washington St, Hartford, CT 06106 (

Gant Support: Funding received from InCHIP Seed Grant Funding in Cancer Control.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

©2017 Wolters Kluwer Health Inc.
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