Qualitative similarities and distinctions between participants' experiences with a yoga intervention and an attention control

Support Care Cancer. 2023 Feb 16;31(3):172. doi: 10.1007/s00520-023-07639-0.


Purpose: This manuscript aims to compare and contrast acceptability and perceived benefits of yoga-skills training (YST) and an empathic listening attention control (AC) in the Pro-You study, a randomized pilot trial of YST vs. AC for adults receiving chemotherapy infusions for gastrointestinal cancer.

Methods: Participants were invited for a one-on-one interview at week 14 follow-up, after completing all intervention procedures and quantitative assessments. Staff used a semi-structured guide to elicit participants' views on study processes, the intervention they received, and its effects. Qualitative data analysis followed an inductive/deductive approach, inductively identifying themes and deductively guided by social cognitive theory.

Results: Some barriers (e.g., competing demands, symptoms), facilitators (e.g., interventionist support, the convenience of clinic-based delivery), and benefits (e.g., decreased distress and rumination) were common across groups. YST participants uniquely described the importance of privacy, social support, and self-efficacy for increasing engagement in yoga. Benefits specific to YST included positive emotions and greater improvement in fatigue and other physical symptoms. Both groups described some self-regulatory processes, but through different mechanisms: self-monitoring in AC and the mind-body connection in YST.

Conclusions: This qualitative analysis demonstrates that participant experiences in a yoga-based intervention or an AC condition reflect social cognitive and mind-body frameworks of self-regulation. Findings can be used to develop yoga interventions that maximize acceptability and effectiveness and to design future research that elucidates the mechanisms by which yoga is efficacious.

Keywords: Cancer; Fatigue; Mechanisms; Qualitative; Self-regulation; Yoga.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Meditation*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Self Efficacy
  • Yoga* / psychology