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A Self-Administered Sleep Intervention for Patients With Cancer Experiencing Insomnia

Nancy (Surya) A. Absolon
Lynda G. Balneaves
Tracy L.O. Truant
Rosemary L. Cashman
Margurite E. Wong
Jeremy D. Hamm
Manisha B. Witmans
CJON 2016, 20(3), 289-297 DOI: 10.1188/16.CJON.289-297

Background: Sleep-wake disturbances are experienced by as many as 75% of patients with cancer and are associated with poor symptom management, lower functionality, and decreased quality of life. Although promising sleep interventions exist, they require extensive resources and time.

Objectives: The objectives of this study were to develop a brief, self-administered sleep intervention and to evaluate the feasibility and potential efficacy of its implementation with adult patients with cancer who were about to receive, were receiving, or had received radiation therapy in an ambulatory cancer care setting.

Methods: Pre- and postintervention surveys and qualitative interviews were conducted with patients with cancer experiencing insomnia (N = 28) and receiving radiation treatment within the past six months. Patients received instruction on breathing, visualization, and intonation. Adherence and sleep quality were primary study outcomes. Analyses included descriptive statistics and repeated measure regression analysis. Thematic analysis was conducted on qualitative data.

Findings: Adherence to the sleep intervention was high (75%), and significant improvement was found in global sleep quality (p < 0.0001) regardless of level of adherence. Sleep onset latency (p = 0.0005), sleep duration (p = 0.0016), and sleep quality (p < 0.0001) were significantly improved. Age was significantly correlated with sleep quality (p = 0.0094), with older participants reporting greater benefit from the intervention. Participants reported that the intervention was easy to learn and implement and that it “calmed the mind.”

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