Objective: The aim of this meta-analysis was to evaluate the effects of yoga on psychologic function and quality of life (QoL) in women with breast cancer.
Design: A systematic search of PubMed, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library, the Chinese Biomedical Literature Database, and the Chinese Digital Journals Full-text Database was carried out. Randomized control trials (RCTs) examining the effects of yoga, versus a control group receiving no intervention, on psychologic functioning and QoL in women with breast cancer were included. Methodological quality of included RCTs was assessed according to the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions 5.0.1, and data were analyzed using the Cochrane Collaboration's Review Manager 5.1.
Results: Six (6) studies involving 382 patients were included. The meta-analysis showed that yoga can improve QoL for women with breast cancer. A statistically significant effect favoring yoga for the outcome of QoL was found (standard mean difference=0.27, 95% confidence interval [0.02, 0.52], p=0.03). Although the effects of yoga on psychologic function outcomes--such as anxiety, depression, distress and sleep--were in the expected direction, these effects were not statistically significant (p>0.05). Fatigue showed no significant difference (p>0.05).
Conclusions: The present data provided little indication of how effective yoga might be when they were applied by women with breast cancer except for mildly effective in QOL improvement. The findings were based on a small body of evidence in which methodological quality was not high. Further well-designed RCTs with large sample size are needed to clarify the utility of yoga practice for this population.