Yoga for older adults with multimorbidity (The Gentle Years Yoga Trial): study protocol for a randomised controlled trial

Garry Tew, Laura Bissell, Belen Corbacho, Caroline Fairhurst, Jenny Howsam, Jess Hugill-Jones, Camila Maturana, Shirley-Anne Paul, Tim Rapley, Jenny Roche, Fi Rose, David Torgerson, Lesley Ward, Laura Wiley, David Yates, Catherine Hewitt

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Background: Multimorbidity is common in older adults and associated with high levels of illness burden and healthcare expenditure. The evidence base for how to manage older adults with multimorbidity is weak. Yoga might be a useful intervention because it has the potential to improve health-related quality of life, physical functioning, and several medical conditions. The British Wheel of Yoga’s Gentle Years Yoga© (GYY) programme was developed specifically for older adults, including those with chronic medical conditions. Data from a pilot trial suggested feasibility of using GYY in this population, but its effectiveness and cost-effectiveness remains uncertain.
Methods: This is a multi-site, individually randomised, superiority trial with an embedded process evaluation and an economic analysis of cost effectiveness. The trial will compare an experimental strategy of offering a 12-week GYY programme against a control strategy of no offer in community-dwelling adults aged 65 or over who have multimorbidity, defined as having two or more chronic conditions from a predefined list. The primary outcome is health-related quality of life measured using the EQ-5D-5L; the primary endpoint being the overall difference over 12 months. Both groups will continue to be able to access their usual care from primary, secondary, community and social services. Participants, care providers and yoga teachers will not be blinded to the allocated intervention. Outcome measures are primarily self-reported. Analysis will follow intention-to-treat principles.
Discussion: This pragmatic randomised controlled trial will demonstrate if the GYY programme is an effective, cost-effective, and viable addition to the management of older adults with multimorbidity.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 23 Mar 2021

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