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J Clin Oncol. 2011 Mar 10;29(8):1001-6. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2010.30.9104. Epub 2011 Jan 31.

Differences in sleep disturbance parameters between oncology outpatients and their family caregivers.

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  • 1Schools of Nursing and Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.



This study compared the occurrence rates for and severity ratings of sleep disturbance in patient-family caregiver (FC) dyads.


In total, 102 dyads were recruited from two radiation therapy (RT) departments. Patients and their FCs completed the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and the General Sleep Disturbance Scale (GSDS) and wore wrist actigraphs to obtain subjective and objective measures of the occurrence and severity of sleep disturbance at the initiation of RT. Match paired t tests were used to evaluate for dyadic differences.


No differences were found in the occurrence of clinically significant levels of sleep disturbance between patients and their FCs that ranged between 40% and 50% using subjective and objective measures. Few differences were found in the severity of any of the sleep-wake parameters between patients and FCs using both the subjective and objective measures of sleep disturbance.


The findings from this study suggest that patients with cancer and their FCs experience similar levels of sleep disturbance and that both groups could benefit from interventions that aim to promote restful sleep. In addition to routine and systematic assessment of sleep disturbance by oncology clinicians, interventions are needed that take into account the specific needs of the patient and the FC as well as the potential for partners' sleep patterns to influence one another.

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