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, 126 (1), 165-173

Developing Efficient and Effective Behavioral Treatment for Insomnia in Cancer Survivors: Results of a Stepped Care Trial


Developing Efficient and Effective Behavioral Treatment for Insomnia in Cancer Survivors: Results of a Stepped Care Trial

Eric S Zhou et al. Cancer.


Background: Insomnia is common among cancer survivors. 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.

Methods: Fifty-one survivors (mean age, 55 years) with elevated Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) scores (≥12) first participated in Sleep Training Education Program (STEP)-1: a single, sleep education session. Those reporting elevated ISI scores 1 month later were offered STEP-2: a 3-session, group cognitive behavioral treatment for insomnia that has been demonstrated to be efficacious. Participants were considered treatment responders if their ISI score improved by ≥6 points and were considered as having remitted if their posttreatment ISI score was <12. Mood was assessed with the Profile of Mood States-Short Form (POMS-SF).

Results: Following STEP-1, ISI scores improved (17.1 to 11.2; P < .001), with 45% responding and 41% remitted. Insomnia remission after STEP-1 was associated with lower insomnia severity and shorter duration of sleep problems at baseline. Of the 30 (59%) survivors with unremitted insomnia after STEP-1, 14 (47%) participated in STEP-2. Following STEP-2, ISI scores improved (16.9 to 8.8; P < .001), with 79% responding and 71% remitted. STEP-2 participation was associated with interest in sleep treatment at baseline, but not demographic/health-related variables. Mood improved significantly following both STEP-1 and STEP-2 (P < .001).

Conclusion: A stepped care approach to treating insomnia among cancer survivors has the potential to improve treatment accessibility. A sizable proportion of survivors can benefit from 2 different low-intensity approaches that could be delivered by nonsleep specialists. For individuals who require more intensive care, assessing treatment interest can identify those who are likely to engage.

Keywords: cancer survivor; cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia; insomnia; stepped care.

Conflict of interest statement

Conflicts of Interest

Authors declare they have no conflicts of interest.

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