Background: Sleep problems are a common complaint in cancer patients that have been understudied.
Methods: This study examined changes in sleep in 33 breast cancer (BC) patients and 23 prostate cancer (PC) patients during radiation therapy and over a 6-month followup. Coping processes were examined as predictors of sleep. Self-reported sleep was assessed at eight time-points before, during, and after treatment using the Medical Outcomes Study-Sleep Scale. The COPE Scale was used to assess coping processes before treatment onset.
Results: Mixed effects linear modeling analyses revealed that both BC and PC patients reported the most sleep problems prior to and during the early weeks of treatment. Coping strategies predicted sleep trajectories in both groups. In particular, approach coping predicted better sleep in PC patients, whereas avoidance coping predicted worst sleep in both PC and BC patients (p's<0.05).
Conclusion: These findings highlight the importance of evaluating sleep in patients as they undergo treatment for cancer. Additionally, they suggest that interventions aimed at increasing the use of approach-oriented coping strategies may improve sleep and quality of life in these patients.