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A pilot evaluation of an online cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia disorder – targeted screening and interactive Web design lead to improved sleep in a community population

Authors Anderson K, Goldsmith P, Gardiner A

Received 19 November 2013

Accepted for publication 6 January 2014

Published 17 March 2014 Volume 2014:6 Pages 43—49

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NSS.S57852

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3


Kirstie N Anderson, Paul Goldsmith, Alison Gardiner

Regional Sleep Service, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Introduction: Computerized or online cognitive behavioral therapies (CBTs) are increasingly being developed to deliver insomnia therapy (CBT-i). They seek to address the difficulty of delivering an evidence-based technology to a large number of patients at low cost. Previous online applications have shown significant but variable improvements in sleep efficiency and a decrease in insomnia severity when compared with control groups. The best online methodology remains debated, and there are no such applications currently available within the UK National Health Service.
Method: Evaluation of treatment outcomes in 75 participants with insomnia disorder using an open-access, novel, interactive online therapy. Rigorous screening was first undertaken to exclude those with probable sleep apnea, restless legs, circadian rhythm disorder, or significant anxiety or depression prior to commencing therapy. A modern interactive video-based website was used to encourage compliance by personalizing therapy based on response. Sleep efficiency, sleep latency, total sleep time, and sleep quality were all assessed prior to and after intervention.
Results: Of those who accessed therapy, 62% were excluded based on a likely diagnosis of another sleep disorder (788/1281). Participants who completed therapy all had severe insomnia disorder, with a group mean sleep efficiency of 55%. After intervention there was a significant increase in sleep efficiency and sleep latency, with modest nonsignificant improvements in total sleep time. The majority of users reported improved sleep quality, and compliance with therapy was very good, with over 64/75 completing >90% of sleep diary entries.
Conclusion: Online CBT-i can be designed to deliver personalized therapy with good reported outcomes and high compliance rates in those who start therapy. This initial evaluation also suggests that screening for other sleep disorders and mental health problems is necessary as many other sleep disorders are detected in those who self-refer with insomnia. This would inform the development of any larger-scale applications within the psychological therapies used in the health care system.

Keywords: CBT, online applications, sleep efficiency, sleep latency, total sleep time, sleep quality, compliance

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