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The benefits of yoga for women veterans with chronic low back pain.

Groessl EJ, Weingart KR, Johnson N, Baxi S. The benefits of yoga for women veterans with chronic low back pain. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.). 2012 Sep 1; 18(9):832-8.

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OBJECTIVES: Chronic low back (CLBP) pain is prevalent among military veterans and often leads to functional limitations, psychologic symptoms, lower quality of life, and higher health care costs. An increasing proportion of U.S. veterans are women, and women veterans may have different health care needs than men veterans. The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of a yoga intervention on women and men with CLBP. SUBJECTS/SETTING/INTERVENTION: VA patients with CLBP were referred by primary care providers to a clinical yoga program. DESIGN: Research participants completed a brief battery of questionnaires before their first yoga class and again 10 weeks later in a single-group, pre-post study design. OUTCOME MEASURES: Questionnaires included measures of pain (Pain Severity Scale), depression (CESD-10), energy/fatigue, and health-related quality of life (SF-12). Yoga attendance and home practice of yoga were also measured. Repeated-measures analysis of variance was used to analyze group differences over time while controlling for baseline differences. RESULTS: The 53 participants who completed both assessments had a mean age of 53 years, and were well educated, 41% nonwhite, 49% married, and had varying employment status. Women participants had significantly larger decreases in depression (p = 0.046) and pain "on average" (p = 0.050), and larger increases in energy (p = 0.034) and SF-12 Mental Health (p = 0.044) than men who participated. The groups did not differ significantly on yoga attendance or home practice of yoga. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that women veterans may benefit more than men veterans from yoga interventions for chronic back pain. Conclusions are tentative because of the small sample size and quasi-experimental study design. A more rigorous study is being designed to answer these research questions more definitively.

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