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How junior doctors perceive personalised yoga and group exercise in the management of occupational and traumatic stressors
  1. Jennifer Taylor1,2,
  2. Elizabeth Stratton1,2,
  3. Loyola McLean1,3,4,
  4. Bethan Richards5,6,
  5. Nicholas Glozier1,2
  1. 1Brain and Mind Centre, The University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine and Health, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2Central Clinical School, The University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine and Health, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  3. 3Westmead Psychotherapy Program for Complex Traumatic Disorders, The University of Sydney and Western Sydney Local Health District, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  4. 4Consultant Liaison Psychiatry, Royal North Shore Hospital, Saint Leonards, New South Wales, Australia
  5. 5WellMD Centre, Sydney Local Health District, Camperdown, New South Wales, Australia
  6. 6Department of Rheumatology, Royal Prince Albert Hospital, Sydney Local Health District, Camperdown, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jennifer Taylor, Central Clinical School, The University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine and Health, Camperdown, NSW 2050, Australia; jfis8639{at}


Objectives Junior doctors are exposed to occupational and traumatic stressors, some of which are inherent to medicine. This can result in burnout, mental ill-health and suicide. Within a crossover pilot study comparing personalised, trauma-informed yoga to group-format exercise, qualitative interviews were conducted to understand the experience of junior doctors and whether such interventions were perceived to help manage these stressors.

Methods Twenty-one doctors, 76% female, were order-randomised to consecutive 8-week yoga and exercise programmes. Fifty-two interviews were recorded before and after each programme.

Results Many participants reported being time poor, sleep-affected, frequently stressed and occasionally in physical pain/distress. Major stressor themes were workplace incivility, death/human suffering and shift work with minimal support. Both interventions were acceptable for different reasons. Personalised yoga offered a therapeutic alliance, time to check-in and reduced anxiety/rumination. Group exercise provided energy and social connection. One participant found yoga beneficial following an acute workplace trauma: ‘It was really eye opening how much I felt my body just needed to detox … I wouldn’t have gone to a group fitness the next day … I just wanted to relax and breathe …We still had a big debrief which was great … (but) I almost felt like … I dealt with it physically and emotionally before going into it (P20).’

Conclusion Junior doctors found both interventions useful for stress management adjunctive to other organisational programmes though for different and complementary reasons, possibly related to delivery mode. Personalised, trauma-informed yoga provided a confidential therapeutic alliance whereas group exercise offered social connection.

  • anxiety disorders
  • medical education & training

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  • Twitter @jentayloryoga

  • Contributors JT was responsible for the study design, interviews, transcription and manuscript drafting. NG was the principal investigator. NG and LM contributed to the study design. ES performed randomisation. JT delivered the yoga intervention. JT and ES coded the data. BR approved use of the comparator fitness intervention. NG, LM, ES and BR reviewed the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests BR is the Chief Medical Wellness Officer, WellMD Centre, SLHD and executive owner of MDOK. The MDOK program provided the group exercise control. JT also worked as an instructor on the MDOK program separate from this study.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval was obtained from SLHD Ethics Review Committee (RPAH Zone) (X18-0362 & HREC/18/RPAH/511) and the trial was registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR 12618001467224).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request.

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