Yoga and Aerobic Dance for Pain Management in Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis: Protocol for a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial

Background: Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is one of the most common types of arthritis among children. According to JIA guidelines for physical activity (PA), structured PA interventions led to improved health outcomes. However, many PA programs, such as yoga and aerobic dance, have not been studied in this population despite being popular among youth. Web-based PA programs could provide patients with accessible and affordable interventions.

Objective: The primary aims of the proposed pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT) are to examine (1) the feasibility of conducting a full-scale RCT to evaluate the effectiveness of two popular types of PA: a yoga training program and an aerobic dance training program, in female adolescents (aged 13-18 years) with JIA compared with an electronic pamphlet control group; and (2) the acceptability of these interventions.

Methods: A three-arm prospective randomized open-label study with a parallel group design will be used. A total of 25 female adolescents with JIA who have pain will be randomized in a ratio of 2:2:1 to one of the 3 groups: (1) online yoga training program (group A: n=10); (2) online aerobic dance training program (group B: n=10); and (3) electronic pamphlet control group (group C: n=5). Participants in groups A and B will complete 3 individual 1-hour sessions per week using online exercise videos, as well as a 1-hour virtual group session per week using a videoconferencing platform for 12 weeks. Participants from all groups will have access to an electronic educational pamphlet on PA for arthritis developed by the Arthritis Society. All participants will also take part in weekly online consultations with a research coordinator and discussions on Facebook with participants from their own group. Feasibility (ie, recruitment rate, self-reported adherence to the interventions, dropout rates, and percentage of missing data), acceptability, and usability of Facebook and the videoconferencing platform will be assessed at the end of the program. Pain intensity, participation in general PA, morning stiffness, functional status, fatigue, self-efficacy, patient global assessment, disease activity, and adverse events will be assessed using self-administered electronic surveys at baseline and then weekly until the end of the 12-week program.

Results: This pilot RCT has been funded by the Arthritis Health Professions Association. This protocol was approved by the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Ethics Board (#17/08X). As of May 11, 2020, recruitment and data collection have not started.

Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first study to evaluate the effectiveness of yoga and aerobic dance as pain management interventions for female adolescents with JIA. The use of online programs to disseminate these 2 PA interventions may facilitate access to alternative methods of pain management. This study can lead to a full-scale RCT.

Lead Researchers

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  1. Patricia Longmuir

    Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute

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