Yoga Practice among Veterans with and Without Chronic Pain: A Mixed Methods Study

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Objectives:The primary aim of this study was to examine differences in yoga practice between persons with and without chronic pain. Secondarily, we describe use of the Essential Properties of Yoga Questionnaire, Short Form (EPYQ-SF) for self-report.Design:Participants were members of an existing cohort of veterans who completed a 2015-2016 survey focused on pain and nonpharmacological health practices. Cohort members who reported yoga in the past year [n=174 (9.4%) of 1850] were eligible for the present study, which used multiple-contact mixed-mode survey methodology to collect data on yoga practices. The EPYQ-SF was used to assess properties and context of yoga practice. Practice patterns were compared for participants with and without chronic pain. To explore potential reasons for reported yoga practice patterns, focused semistructured interviews were conducted with a subset of participants.Results:Of 174 participants contacted, 141 (82%) returned the yoga questionnaire and 110 (78% of respondents) were still practicing yoga. Among yoga practitioners, 41 (37%) had chronic pain. Practitioners with chronic pain reported gentler (2.8 vs. 3.1, 5-point scale) and less active (2.9 vs. 3.3) yoga practice than those without. Those with chronic pain attended yoga studios less frequently and reported shorter yoga practices than those without. Most yoga practice was self-directed and at home.Conclusions:Differences in yoga practice of persons with and without chronic pain have implications for implementation of yoga interventions for chronic pain. Future interventions should focus on alternative individual delivery formats or addressing barriers to group practice among people with chronic pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S133-S141
JournalMedical care
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

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© 2020 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. All rights reserved.


  • chronic pain
  • mixed methods
  • qualitative interview
  • veterans
  • yoga


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