Qigong Mind-Body Exercise as a Biopsychosocial Therapy for Persistent Post-Surgical Pain in Breast Cancer: A Pilot Study

Integr Cancer Ther. 2020 Jan-Dec;19:1534735419893766. doi: 10.1177/1534735419893766.


Purpose: To assess the feasibility, safety, and preliminary effectiveness of a 12-week multimodal Qigong Mind-Body Exercise (QMBE) program for breast cancer survivors with persistent post-surgical pain (PPSP). Methods: This was a single-arm mixed-methods pilot study. Primary outcome measures were feasibility (recruitment, adherence) and safety. Validated self-report questionnaires were used to evaluate a constellation of interdependent symptoms, including pain, fatigue, mood, exercise, interoceptive awareness, and health-related quality of life at baseline and 12 weeks. A subset of the instruments was administered 6 months postintervention. Shoulder range of motion and grip strength were objectively assessed at baseline and 12 weeks. Qualitative interviews were conducted at baseline and 12 weeks. Results: Twenty-one participants were enrolled; 18 and 17 participants, respectively, completed the 12-week and 6-month outcome assessment. No serious adverse events were reported. Statistically significant improvements were observed at 12 weeks in pain severity and interference, fatigue, anxiety, depression, perceived stress, self-esteem, pain catastrophizing, and several subdomains of quality of life, interoceptive awareness, and shoulder range of motion. Changes in pain, fatigue, pain catastrophizing, anxiety, depression, and quality of life were clinically meaningful. Postintervention effects were sustained at 6 months. Conclusions: QMBE is a safe and gentle multimodal intervention that shows promise in conferring a broad range of psychosocial and physical benefits for breast cancer survivors with PPSP. Results support the value of future studies evaluating the impact of QMBE on multiple outcomes relevant to breast cancer survivors with PPSP.

Keywords: Qigong; breast cancer; mind-body exercise; persistent post-surgical pain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Cancer Survivors
  • Exercise
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Fatigue / therapy
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Mind-Body Therapies / methods*
  • Pain
  • Pain, Postoperative / therapy*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Qigong*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Treatment Outcome