Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia in Older Veterans Using Nonclinician Sleep Coaches: Randomized Controlled Trial

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2016 Sep;64(9):1830-8. doi: 10.1111/jgs.14304. Epub 2016 Aug 22.


Objectives: To test a new cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) program designed for use by nonclinicians.

Design: Randomized controlled trial.

Setting: Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system.

Participants: Community-dwelling veterans aged 60 and older who met diagnostic criteria for insomnia of 3 months duration or longer (N = 159).

Intervention: Nonclinician "sleep coaches" delivered a five-session manual-based CBT-I program including stimulus control, sleep restriction, sleep hygiene, and cognitive therapy (individually or in small groups), with weekly telephone behavioral sleep medicine supervision. Controls received five sessions of general sleep education.

Measurements: Primary outcomes, including self-reported (7-day sleep diary) sleep onset latency (SOL-D), wake after sleep onset (WASO-D), total wake time (TWT-D), and sleep efficiency (SE-D); Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI); and objective sleep efficiency (7-day wrist actigraphy, SE-A) were measured at baseline, at the posttreatment assessment, and at 6- and 12-month follow-up. Additional measures included the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI), depressive symptoms (Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9)), and quality of life (Medical Outcomes Study 12-item Short-form Survey version 2 (SF-12v2)).

Results: Intervention subjects had greater improvement than controls between the baseline and posttreatment assessments, the baseline and 6-month assessments, and the baseline and 12-month assessments in SOL-D (-23.4, -15.8, and -17.3 minutes, respectively), TWT-D (-68.4, -37.0, and -30.9 minutes, respectively), SE-D (10.5%, 6.7%, and 5.4%, respectively), PSQI (-3.4, -2.4, and -2.1 in total score, respectively), and ISI (-4.5, -3.9, and -2.8 in total score, respectively) (all P < .05). There were no significant differences in SE-A, PHQ-9, or SF-12v2.

Conclusion: Manual-based CBT-I delivered by nonclinician sleep coaches improves sleep in older adults with chronic insomnia.

Keywords: aged; cognitive behavioral therapy; insomnia; randomized controlled trial; sleep.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychometrics / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / psychology*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Veterans / psychology*
  • Wakefulness