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Yoga for Teens With Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Results From a Mixed-Methods Pilot Study

Evans, Subhadra, PhD; Seidman, Laura C., BS; Lung, Kirsten, BS; Sternlieb, Beth, BFA; Zeltzer, Lonnie K., MD

doi: 10.1097/HNP.0000000000000288

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition associated with recurrent abdominal pain and altered bowel habits. It is particularly pernicious to youth, who may withdraw from life tasks due to pain, diarrhea, and/or fear of symptoms. Emotional stress exacerbates IBS symptoms, and mind-body interventions may be beneficial. In this mixed-methods study of 18 teens aged 14 to 17 years undertaking a 6-week Iyengar yoga intervention, we aimed to identify treatment responders and to explore differences between responders and nonresponders on a range of quantitative outcomes and qualitative themes related to yoga impact, goodness of fit, and barriers to treatment. Half of the teens responded successfully to yoga, defined as a clinically meaningful reduction in abdominal pain. Responders differed from nonresponders on postintervention quantitative outcomes, including reduced abdominal pain, improved sleep, and increased visceral sensitivity. Qualitative outcomes revealed that responders reported generalized benefits early in treatment and that their parents were supportive and committed to the intervention. Responders and nonresponders alike noted the importance of home practice to achieve maximal, sustained benefits. This study reveals the need for developmentally sensitive yoga programs that increase accessibility of yoga for all patients.

School of Psychology, Faculty of Health, Deakin Univeristy, Geelong, Australia (Dr Evans); and Pediatric Pain Program, Department of Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles (Mss Seidman, Lung, and Sternlieb and Dr Zeltzer).

Correspondence: Subhadra Evans, PhD, School of Psychology, Faculty of Health, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Hwy, Burwood, Victoria 3125, Australia (

This study was supported by NCCAM grant K01AT005093, an Oppenheimer Seed Grant for Complementary, Alternative and Integrative Medicine, UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute Grant UL1TR000124, and by the UCLA Children's Discovery and Innovation Institute. The principal investigator (S.E.) received all the grants.

The authors report no conflicts of interest. ID and URL: NCT01107977 (

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