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PURPOSE: Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) is a distressing consequence of cancer and its treatment. CRF impacts many young adult (YA) survivors of childhood cancer, compromising work, social relationships, and daily activities. No satisfactory treatment exists. This pilot study aimed to assess the feasibility, safety, and preliminary efficacy of an 8-week twice/week Iyengar yoga (IY) intervention for treating persistent fatigue in YA survivors of childhood cancer.METHODS: Using a single-arm mixed-methods design, adult childhood cancer survivors aged between 18 and 39 years were recruited from a survivorship clinic at a single institution. Quantitative: The primary outcome was fatigue as measured by the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Fatigue. Secondary outcomes included vitality, social functioning, multidimensional fatigue, mood, and sleep. Weekly self-report monitoring data were collected. Qualitative: Participants also completed a post-intervention interview, major themes evaluated. RESULTS: Five participants enrolled into the study and four completed the intervention. Attendance was 92% and there were no adverse events. Baseline mobility was highly varied, with one YA having had a hemipelvectomy. Quantitative data revealed significantly improved fatigue, social functioning, somatization, and general and emotional manifestations of fatigue following yoga. Qualitative data cross validated, clarified, and expanded upon the quantitative findings. CONCLUSIONS: The study suggests that a brief IY intervention is safe for YA survivors of childhood cancer, even for those with physical disabilities. Preliminary efficacy was demonstrated for the primary outcome of fatigue. Qualitative data elucidated additional improvements, such as work-related social functioning, and a sense of calm and relaxation.
Children, adolescents, and young adults do not typically feature in clinics, studies, and mainstream notions of chronic pain. Yet many young people experience debilitating pain for extended periods of time. Chronic pain in these formative years may be especially important to treat in order for young patients to maintain life tasks and to prevent protracted disability. The Pediatric Pain Program at the University of California, Los Angeles, is a multidisciplinary treatment program designed for young people with chronic pain and their families. We offer both conventional and complementary medicine to treat the whole individual. This article describes the work undertaken in the clinic and our newly developed Yoga for Youth Research Program. The clinical and research programs fill a critical need to provide service to youth with chronic pain and to scientifically study one of the more popular complementary treatments we offer, Iyengar yoga.