Introduction: A survey of 2121 insomniac patients was conducted in France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom.
Design: The survey collected data on the sociodemographic and clinical features of the subjects by interview, as well as on healthcare resource utilization. A complementary analysis of physician attitudes to insomnia provided insights into the types of treatment prescribed and expectations of medical treatment.
Results: Slightly more women than men reported insomnia, but the difference was not significant. The age distribution of insomniac patients varied from country to country. Insomnia was more frequent in the unemployed and in those individuals living alone. The most frequently cited causes of insomnia were stress, loneliness and bereavement. Insomnia was usually reported as chronic, and frequently as episodic. Frequently cited symptoms were poor sleep quality, interrupted sleep, early awakening, difficulties in getting to sleep and daytime fatigue.
Conclusions: Many individuals hesitate to consult their doctor about insomnia, whereas physicians question their patients about possible sleep problems relatively infrequently and systematically underestimate the severity of insomnia and the resulting functional impairment. Physicians frequently recommended lifestyle changes and sleep hygiene measures to patients complaining of insomnia. Hypnotic agents were the most frequently prescribed class of medication. Patient satisfaction with treatment was relatively high.