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

Elizabeth L. Addington, David Schlundt, Kemberlee Bonnet, Gurjeet Birdee, Nancy E. Avis, Lynne I. Wagner, Russell L. Rothman, Sheila Ridner, Janet A. Tooze, Amy Wheeler, Julie B. Schnur, Stephanie J. Sohl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number172
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • Cancer
  • Fatigue
  • Mechanisms
  • Qualitative
  • Self-regulation
  • Yoga


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