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Increasing provider awareness of and recommendations for yoga and meditation classes for cancer patients



The purpose of the current study was to (1) assess healthcare providers’ beliefs about and referral patterns to yoga and meditation services, and (2) evaluate the effectiveness of a brief yoga/meditation educational presentation to increase providers’ intent to recommend these programs.


A brief 5-min presentation regarding the benefits of yoga and meditation for cancer patients and instruction about referring and enrolling patients was delivered in four different oncology settings: breast, gynecologic, radiation, and surgical. Healthcare provider participants filled out pre- and post-surveys assessing knowledge and attitudes surrounding yoga and meditation classes.


A total of 40 healthcare providers were surveyed, consisting of 18 physicians, 12 nurses, six nurse practitioners, two physician assistants, one pharmacist, and one clinical researcher. Of these 40 healthcare providers, 43% were unaware at baseline that yoga and meditation classes were offered through the cancer center and 55% responded that they rarely or never recommend yoga or meditation for patients. Following a brief presentation about the benefits of yoga and meditation for cancer patients, 90% of providers stated they would be more likely to recommend these services to patients in the future. There was a significant (p < 0.01) increase in providers from pre- to post-presentation (65 to 85%) stating they strongly believe yoga and meditation can provide physical or emotional benefits for their patients.

Significance of results

These data demonstrate that a brief educational intervention about yoga and meditation for cancer patients is effective at significantly increasing provider knowledge about the benefits of these therapeutic modalities, with a majority indicating they are more likely to recommend these services in the future. Increasing provider awareness regarding the health-promoting benefits of such supportive services for cancer patients could result in greater service utilization as well as physical and emotional benefits for patients.

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This work was funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (National Institutes of Health (NIH)) through Grant Numbers UL1TR001436 and KL2TR001438. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH. Additional support was also received from the Laura Gralton Philanthropic Fund.

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Correspondence to Jennifer M. Knight.

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Koula, M.J., Knight, J.M. Increasing provider awareness of and recommendations for yoga and meditation classes for cancer patients. Support Care Cancer 26, 3635–3640 (2018).

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  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Cancer
  • Providers
  • Education
  • Oncology