Abstract ID: 3773

Primary Topic: Mind-body (including meditation and yoga)

Effects of Qigong on Interoceptive Awareness in Breast Cancer Survivors with Persistent Post-Surgical Pain
Kamila Osypiuk, MS, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, United States; Gloria Vergara-Diaz, MD, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Boston, MA, United States; Roxanne Solis Quinn, BS; Winnie Ng, BS, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA, United States; Paolo Bonato, PhD, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Boston, MA, United States; Jennifer Ligibel, MD, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA, United States; Peter M Wayne, PhD, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, United States

Late Breaker: No


Persistent post-surgical pain (PPSP) is a prevalent and distressing side-effect of breast cancer treatment. A multifaceted mind-body intervention, such as Qigong, which incorporates physical activity and meditative and psychosocial components, may address underlying causes of the pain. Interoceptive awareness has been purported to contribute to the benefits of mind-body interventions. In this single-arm pilot study, in addition to evaluating the feasibility of a 12-week Qigong program for breast cancer survivors, the effects of this intervention on interoception are explored.

Methods/Session Format

Women with a history of stage 0 – III breast cancer experiencing PPSP at least 3 months after completing surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation were recruited. The 12-week Eight Brocade Qigong intervention included one 75-minute class per week and video-guided home practice. The Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness scale (MAIA), collected at baseline and post-intervention, was used to assess interoceptive awareness.


Twenty-one women with mean age of 54 (SD 10.18) and 4.54 (SD 2.81) years since surgery were enrolled. Eighteen subjects completed follow-up outcome assessments (2 withdrew for health reasons, 1 was lost to follow-up). Subjects attended on average 6.52 (SD 3.37) Qigong classes. Among subjects who completed the study (n=18), improvements were observed in seven of eight domains of interoception measured by the MAIA (‘attention regulation’, ‘body listening’, ‘emotional awareness’, ‘noticing’, ‘self-regulation’, ‘trusting’, and ‘not worrying’). The greatest mean differences were observed in ‘self-regulation’ (+1.43 CI=0.88,1.98; p<0.0001), ‘trusting’ (+1.46 CI=0.88,2.04;p<0.0001), and ‘body listening’ (+1.43 CI=0.74,2.11;p=0.0002).


Delivery of Qigong for women with PPSP is feasible and shows promise in increasing interoceptive awareness, particularly impacting one’s ability to listen to and trust the body, and use awareness of body sensations to regulate emotion. Future studies evaluating the clinical and psychophysiological benefits of Qigong and the relationship between interoception and other key issues affecting breast cancer survivors, e.g. pain, self-esteem, and perceived stress, are warranted.