The suitability of yoga as a potential therapeutic intervention for rheumatoid arthritis: a focus group approach.
Ward L., Treharne GJ., Stebbings S.
OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to explore the views of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) regarding the suitability of yoga as a potential therapeutic intervention in the management of RA. METHODS: Twenty-two participants with RA were recruited from outpatient clinics at a regional hospital in New Zealand and divided into four focus groups. Heterogeneity between groups in terms of age, gender, duration of RA and functional ability provided opinions from a cross-section of RA patients. Transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis, with four themes predominating. RESULTS: Firstly, participants described their experience of symptoms related to their RA in three independent but linked categories of physical, mental and social well-being. Secondly, participants perceived the management of their RA to be prescriptive, medicalized and failing to address their wider health concerns. Thirdly, participants perceived yoga as a safe, adaptable therapy that may allow self-management of their RA. However, there was some concern that functional limitations may inhibit ability to practise the physical aspects of yoga. Fourthly, requirements for a yoga intervention that would be feasible for people with RA were presented by participants. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with RA perceive a disparity between their personal experience of living with RA and their current medical management. Yoga is perceived as a potential therapy to address this disparity. Based on opinions expressed by participants, future research regarding a yoga intervention as an adjunctive therapy for managing RA should meet patients' views on feasibility and test outcome measures reflecting the domains of physical, mental and social well-being.