Objective: To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of medical yoga as an early intervention compared with evidence-based exercise therapy and self-care advice for non-specific low back pain.
Design: Randomized controlled trial with a cost-effectiveness analysis.
Subjects: A total of 159 participants randomized into the medical yoga group (n = 52), the exercise therapy group (n = 52) and the self-care advice group (n = 55).
Methods: The health outcome measure EQ-5D was applied to measure quality of life data combined with cost data collected from treatment groups from baseline to 12 months follow-up. Outcome measure was health-related quality of life (HRQL). Incremental cost per quality adjusted life year (QALY) was also calculated. Cost-effectiveness analysis was conducted primarily from the societal and employer perspectives.
Results: Medical yoga is cost-effective compared with self-care advice if an employer considers the significant improvement in the HRQL of an employee with low back pain justifies the additional cost of treatment (i.e. in this study EUR 150). From a societal perspective, medical yoga is a cost-effective treatment compared with exercise therapy and self-care advice if an additional QALY is worth EUR 11,500. Sensitivity analysis suggests that medical yoga is more cost-effective than its alternatives.
Conclusion: Six weeks of uninterrupted medical yoga thera-py is a cost-effective early intervention for non-specific low back pain, when treatment recommendations are adhered to.