Background: 'Stress' and 'health-related quality of life' (HRQoL) are two important theoretical constructs for modern therapy evaluation with clinical relevance. Eurythmy therapy (EYT) is a mind-body-therapy derived from anthroposophic medicine with promising effects on heart rate variability (HRV), HRQoL and disease scores. The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of EYT on stress coping strategies (SCS) and HRQoL in a controlled study with moderately stressed participants.
Methods: 68 healthy, moderately stressed adults (mean age: 42.2; SD: 8.2) performed 10h of EYT in a group setting over a period of six weeks. A non-randomised control group of 22 healthy adults (mean age: 43.6; SD: 13.7) received no intervention and did only complete the questionnaires at the same data points. Outcomes were measured before and after the intervention (AVEM & SF-36).
Results: A significant impact on SCS was found in seven AVEM scales (MANOVA, F (1/74)=4.59; p=.04). With regard to changes in risk pattern affiliation (AVEM), 24% of the participants receiving EYT (n=55) changed over time from a risky stress coping pattern to a healthier pattern. Concerning the HRQoL four normally distributed scales of the SF-36 ('vitality', 'social functioning', 'mental health' and 'physical functioning') showed a significant group×time interaction favouring the EYT group (MANOVA, F (1/74)=17.26; p<.001). Statistically and clinically relevant mean differences over time of at least eight scale points were found for 'role physical', 'bodily pain', 'vitality' and 'mental health', and of at least 15 scale points for 'role emotional' and 'social functioning'.
Conclusions: A six-week period of EYT training can result in a significant reduction of stress and consequently improve QoL. Because a significant proportion of participants had high levels of stress at baseline the results suggest a health-enhancing benefit of EYT that may have clinical potential for prevention of stress and associated disorders in healthy individuals and possibly in patients with chronic diseases, for example.
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