Background: The aim of this review was to systematically review and meta-analyze the effects of yoga on symptoms of schizophrenia, quality of life, function, and hospitalization in patients with schizophrenia.
Methods: MEDLINE/Pubmed, Scopus, the Cochrane Library, PsycInfo, and IndMED were screened through August 2012. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing yoga to usual care or non-pharmacological interventions were analyzed when they assessed symptoms or quality of life in patients with schizophrenia. Cognitive function, social function, hospitalization, and safety were defined as secondary outcomes. Risk of bias was assessed using the risk of bias tool recommended by the Cochrane Back Review Group. Standardized mean differences (SMD) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated.
Results: Five RCTs with a total of 337 patients were included; 2 RCTs had low risk of bias. Two RCTs compared yoga to usual care; 1 RCT compared yoga to exercise; and 2 3-arm RCTs compared yoga to usual care and exercise. No evidence was found for short-term effects of yoga compared to usual care on positive symptoms (SMD = -0.58; 95% CI -1.52 to 0.37; P = 0.23), or negative symptoms (SMD = -0.59; 95% CI -1.87 to 0.69; P = 0.36). Moderate evidence was found for short-term effects on quality of life compared to usual care (SMD = 2.28; 95% CI 0.42 to 4.14; P = 0.02). These effects were only present in studies with high risk of bias. No evidence was found for short-term effects on social function (SMD = 1.20; 95% CI -0.78 to 3.18; P = 0.23). Comparing yoga to exercise, no evidence was found for short-term effects on positive symptoms (SMD = -0.35; 95% CI -0.75 to 0.05; P = 0.09), negative symptoms (SMD = -0.28; 95% CI -1.42 to 0.86; P = 0.63), quality of life (SMD = 0.17; 95% CI -0.27 to 0.61; P = 0.45), or social function (SMD = 0.20; 95% CI -0.27 to 0.67; P = 0.41). Only 1 RCT reported adverse events.
Conclusions: This systematic review found only moderate evidence for short-term effects of yoga on quality of life. As these effects were not clearly distinguishable from bias and safety of the intervention was unclear, no recommendation can be made regarding yoga as a routine intervention for schizophrenia patients.