A Qualitative Study of Yoga for Patients with Chronic Neck Pain


Objectives: This study investigated the perceived influence of yoga on body perception and psychosocial aspects of life for patients with chronic neck pain. Design: This qualitative study was conducted using semistandardized interviews. Setting: The interventions and interviews took place in a referral center's research department. Subjects: Eighteen (18) patients with chronic nonspecific neck pain were recruited from a larger randomized controlled trial of yoga for chronic neck pain. Interventions: Participants attended 90 minutes of Iyengar yoga once a week for 9 weeks. Outcome measures: Participants completed a drawing of their neck and shoulder regions to reflect their sub-jective body perceptions before and after their yoga program. Semistandardized interviews were used to explore their body perception, emotional status, everyday life and coping skills, as well as any perceived changes in these dimensions postparticipation. An interdisciplinary group analyzed the study data using content analysis techniques. Results: Participants reported change on five dimensions of human experience: physical, cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and social. Physically, most participants cited renewed body awareness, both during their yoga practice and in their daily lives. Such change was echoed in their postparticipation body drawings. Cognitively, participants reported increased perceived control over their health. Emotionally, they noted greater acceptance of their pain and life burdens. Behaviorally, they described enhanced use of active coping strategies. Finally, socially, they reported renewed participation in an active life. Conclusions: Participants linked yoga to change on all dimensions of human experience, attributing reduced pain levels, increased coping ability, better pain acceptance and increased control to it. Body awareness ap-peared a key mechanism in these changes.

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    ABSTRACT: Yoga seems to be an effective means to cope with a variety of internal medicine conditions. While characteristics of yoga users have been investigated in the general population, little is known about predictors of yoga use and barriers to yoga use in internal medicine patients. The aim of this cross-sectional analysis was to identify sociodemographic, clinical, and psychological predictors of yoga use among internal medicine patients. A cross-sectional analysis was conducted among all patients being referred to a Department of Internal and Integrative Medicine during a 3-year period. It was assessed whether patients had ever used yoga for their primary medical complaint, the perceived benefit, and the perceived harm of yoga practice. Potential predictors of yoga use including sociodemographic characteristics, health behavior, internal medicine diagnosis, general health status, mental health, satisfaction with health, and health locus of control were assessed; and associations with yoga use were tested using multiple logistic regression analysis. Odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated for significant predictors. Of 2486 participants, 303 (12.19%) reported having used yoga for their primary medical complaint. Of those, 184 (60.73%) reported benefits and 12 (3.96%) reported harms due to yoga practice. Compared to yoga non-users, yoga users were more likely to be 50--64 years old (OR = 1.45; 95%CI = 1.05-2.01; P = 0.025); female (OR = 2.45; 95%CI = 1.45-4.02; P < 0.001); and college graduates (OR = 1.61; 95%CI = 1.14-2.27; P = 0.007); and less likely to currently smoke (OR = 0.61; 95%CI = 0.39-0.96; P = 0.031). Manifest anxiety (OR = 1.47; 95%CI = 1.06-2.04; P = 0.020); and high internal health locus of control (OR = 1.92; 95%CI = 1.38-2.67; P < 0.001) were positively associated with yoga use, while high external-fatalistic health locus of control (OR = 0.66; 95%CI = 0.47-0.92; P = 0.014) was negatively associated with yoga use. Yoga was used for their primary medical complaint by 12.19% of an internal integrative medicine patient population and was commonly perceived as beneficial. Yoga use was not associated with the patients' specific diagnosis but with sociodemographic factors, mental health, and health locus of control. To improve adherence to yoga practice, it should be considered that male, younger, and anxious patients and those with low internal health locus of control might be less intrinsically motivated to start yoga.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2013 · BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine