Research question: Arthralgia affects postmenopausal breast cancer survivors (BCS) receiving aromatase inhibitors (AI), which may result in reduced function and long-term well-being. This is an exploratory, qualitative investigation of BCS who participated in a yoga-based program to understand impact on joint pain and various aspects of quality of life (QOL) through a yoga program.
Theoretical framework: Social cognitive theory was used and provided the foundation for developing a yoga intervention through sources of efficacy information: (1) performance accomplishment, (2) structured experience, (3) verbal support from instructor and group, and (4) physical feedback.
Methodology: Ten postmenopausal women with stage I-III breast cancer and AI associated arthralgia (AIAA) received yoga twice a week for eight weeks for 90 minutes and were instructed to continue in a home-based yoga program. We used social cognitive theory (SCT) to structure a yoga intervention as an ongoing physical activity to manage joint pain and function. Participants completed journal reflections on their experience and received weekly phone calls.
Analysis: Data was collected and analyzed using qualitative methods. Member checks were completed and emergent themes were explored and agreed upon by the research team to ensure reliability and validity of data. Several emergent themes were discovered: Empowerment: Importance of Camaraderie, Community, and Sharing; Pain Relief; Increased Physical Fitness (Energy, Flexibility, and Function); Relieved Stress/Anxiety and Transferability of Yoga through Breathing. These themes were identified through instructor observation, participant observation, and weekly phone call documentation.
Interpretation: Participants experienced an eight-week yoga intervention as an effective physical activity and support group that fostered various improvements in quality of life (QOL) and reduction in AIAA. Participants were highly motivated to improve physical fitness levels and reduce pain. This study revealed benefits from alternative forms of exercise such as yoga to provide a structure, which is transferable in other situations. Information, structured physical guidance in yoga postures, support, and feedback are necessary to foster physical activity for BCS experiencing pain.
Implications for cancer survivors: Results of this qualitative analysis indicate that interventions to support BCS with AIAA are warranted. Yoga appears to positively impact these side effects of hormonal therapies. Additional research would aid in the development of other interventions.
Published by Elsevier Inc.