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Self-reported Benefits of Qigong by VA Hospital Patients

June 25, 2018 - Movement-based therapies, such as Tai Chi and Qigong, are beneficial for a range of health conditions and are used more frequently by individuals with chronic illness. Yet little is known about how patients with chronic conditions characterize the health benefits of movement-based therapies.

A study recently published by the journal Chronic illness conducted focus groups with 31 patients enrolled in yoga and Qigong programs for chronic conditions at two VA medical centers, one in Bedford, MA and the other in Boston. Transcripts were analyzed using conventional content analysis with codes developed inductively from the data. Participants' descriptions of health benefits were then mapped to Engel's biopsychosocial model.

The participants described improvements in all biopsychosocial realms, including improved physical and mental health, reduced opiate and psychotropic use, enhanced emotional well-being, and better social relationships. Changes were attributed to physical improvements, development of coping skills, and increased self-awareness.

Conclusions: patients with chronic illnesses in this study reported multiple benefits from participation in movement-based therapies, including in physical, mental, and social health realms; therefore, providers treating patients with complex comorbidities may consider referrals to movement-based therapy programs to address multiple concerns simultaneously, particularly among patients seeking alternatives to medication or adjunctive to an opiate reduction strategy.

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