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The Association Between Yoga Use, Physical Function, and Employment in Adults With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Greysen, Heather M. PhD, RN, NP; Hong, Oi Saeng PhD, RN; Katz, Patricia PhD

doi: 10.1097/HNP.0000000000000296

Mind-body exercises such as yoga offer patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) a symptom management strategy for improving physical and mental health. Studies have evaluated yoga to manage symptoms of RA and improve physical function; however, none has examined the relationship between yoga and work status in adults with RA. The objective was to describe differences in RA symptomatology, physical function scores, and work status between adults with RA who participate in yoga and those who do not. This cross-sectional study surveyed adults with rheumatologist-diagnosed RA regarding yoga use in the past year, symptoms, physical function, and work status. Differences between yoga and non-yoga participation groups were assessed with 2-sided t tests or Pearson χ2 tests. Multivariate linear regression analyses were conducted to identify significant associations between yoga participation and primary outcomes. The sample included 398 adults with RA; 88% were females, 66% were white, mean age 61.8 years, mean disease duration 24.8 years; 10.6% participated in yoga. Vinyasa, Bikram, Hatha, Iyengar, and restorative yoga styles were practiced, mostly in a group setting. Yoga participants were significantly more likely to work full-time, less likely to be unable to work due to disability, and had better physical function. These findings characterize yoga practice and practitioners among adults with RA. In adults with RA, yoga participation is associated with full-time work status and better physical function than nonparticipation. This study adds additional information to the growing body of literature about adults with RA who practice yoga.

University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Philadelphia (Dr Greysen); and School of Nursing (Dr Hong) and School of Medicine (Dr Katz), University of California, San Francisco.

Correspondence: Heather M. Greysen, PhD, RN, NP, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Ralston-Penn Center, Rm 329, 3615 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (

The authors would like to thank all of the people who gave their time and effort during this study; the UCSF Arthritis Research Group, the UCSF SON Statistic Department, and the patients who provided the data.

The research reported in this article was generously supported by a National Institute of General Medical Sciences (grant #1 R25 GM56847), the UCSF Rheumatology Multidisciplinary Clinical Research Center (grant #P60 AR053308), and a targeted research training grant from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Occupational Safety and Health Education and Research Centers OEHN traineeship (Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NIOSH grant #5T42 OH008429).

The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

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