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Underuse of yoga as a referral resource by health professions students
Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.)
Format: Journal Article
Publication Year: 2015
Pages: 53 - 59
Source ID: shanti-sources-29611
Abstract: OBJECTIVE: Nearly 38% of U.S. adults use complementary and alternative medicine approaches to manage physical conditions (e.g., chronic pain, arthritis, cancer, heart disease, and high blood pressure) and psychological or emotional health concerns (e.g., post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression). Research evidence has accumulated for yoga as an effective treatment approach for these conditions. Further, yoga has increased in popularity among healthcare providers and the general population. Given these trends, this study explored perceptions about yoga as a viable complementary treatment to which health professions students would refer patients. PARTICIPANTS: More than 1500 students enrolled in health professions programs at a Pacific Northwest school were enrolled; data were obtained from 478 respondents. DESIGN: The study assessed willingness to refer patients to yoga as a complementary and alternative medicine for 27 symptoms (identified in the literature as having evidence for yoga's utility), which were subsequently grouped into skeletal, physical, and psychological on the basis of factor analysis. Responses were assessed using a mixed-model analysis of variance with health profession and yoga practitioner as between-subjects variables and symptoms as a within-subjects factor. RESULTS: In descending order of likelihood to refer patients to yoga were students in occupational therapy, physician assistant program, psychology, physical therapy, pharmacy, dental hygiene, speech and audiology, and optometry. All groups perceived yoga's greatest utility for skeletal symptoms, followed by psychological and physical symptoms. Findings also revealed a significant positive relationship between level of personal yoga practice and willingness to refer patients to yoga. CONCLUSIONS: Although students expressed some openness to referring patients to yoga, ratings of appropriateness were not accurately aligned with extant evidence base. Personal experience seemed to be a salient factor for accepting yoga as a referral target. These findings suggest the importance of developing strategies to make health professionals more aware of the merits of yoga, regardless of whether they themselves are yoga practitioners.