Chronic insomnia can be cured in cancer survivors with a basic sleep education class- Here’s the Theory

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Insomnia is not uncommon among cancer survivors. According to a new report, it may be curable through education.

“Although behavioral treatments for insomnia are effective, access is limited. Stepped care delivery models may provide insomnia treatment that is more efficient and accessible to cancer survivors,” researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute wrote. Their findings were published in Cancer.

The study included 51 cancer survivors (mean age, 55 years) who had an Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) score ≥ 12. All patients took part in Sleep Training Education Program (STEP)‐1, a one-time sleep education session.

Chronic insomnia can be cured in cancer survivors with a basic sleep education class- Here's the Theory
Chronic insomnia can be cured in cancer survivors with a basic sleep education class- Here’s the Theory

Patients who still had high ISI scores one month later were invited to take part in STEP-2, a group of cognitive-behavioral treatment taking place over three sessions. Treatment responders were survivors whose ISI score improved by six points or more, and they were considered remitted if their ISI score dropped below 12 points. The Profile of Mood States–Short Form (POMS‐SF) was used to determine mood.

First study author Eric Zhou, Ph.D. said, in a press release, “Our results show that if we follow a step by step care model, in which the first treatment is low-intensity and easily accessible to patients, it can be useful for improving insomnia in cancer survivors.

This signifies a huge opportunity to tackle a problem that can significantly reduce cancer survivors’ health and quality of life.”

After STEP-1, 45% of patients were responders and 41% were admitted; ISI scores improved from 17.1 to 11.2 (P < 0.001). There was a correlation between insomnia remission after STEP-1 and lower insomnia severity and shorter baseline duration of sleep problems.

Of the 30 patients considered remitted after STEP-1, 14 went on to STEP-2, after which ISI scores improved from 16.9 to 8.8 (P < 0.001); 79% of patients were responders, and 71% were remitted.

There was an association between STEP-2 participation and baseline interest in sleep treatment. STEP-1 and STEP-2 both resulted in significantly improved mood (P < 0.001).

The education program was designed to be easily applied and does not require extensive existing knowledge to lead, according to Dr. Zhou, who, along with senior author Christopher Recklitis, Ph.D., MPH, created the course.

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