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Behav Sleep Med. 2019 Nov-Dec;17(6):790-803. doi: 10.1080/15402002.2018.1518224. Epub 2018 Sep 27.

Mental Health Diagnoses and Symptoms in Preschool and School Age Youth Presenting to Insomnia Evaluation: Prevalence and Associations with Sleep Disruption.

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Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center , Cincinnati , OH , USA.
Department of Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine , Cincinnati , OH , USA.
Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center , Cincinnati , OH , USA.


Objective/Background: Sleep problems and emotional and behavioral difficulties are highly correlated in community samples of youth and in youth presenting to mental health treatment. However, fewer studies have characterized the associations between sleep and psychopathology symptoms in youth presenting to pediatric sleep clinics. This retrospective, cross-sectional study examined the prevalence of psychopathology symptoms and their associations with sleep disruption in youth presenting to a behavioral sleep medicine clinic. Participants: Participants were 373 preschoolers (1.5 to 5 years old) and 300 school age youth (6 to 10 years old) presenting to a pediatric behavioral sleep medicine clinic with a primary insomnia diagnosis. Methods: As a part of routine clinical care, parents completed a battery of pre-evaluation measures assessing insomnia severity, sleep disturbance, history of mental health diagnosis, and psychopathology symptoms. Results: Both preschool and school age youth had high rates of parent-reported mental health diagnoses (35% and 74%, respectively) and clinically elevated psychopathology symptoms (69% of preschoolers and 77% of school age youth) at initial insomnia evaluation. These symptoms were significantly associated with sleep disruption, with ADHD and affective problems most consistently associated with sleep problems in preschoolers and symptoms of anxiety, affective, and behavioral problems most consistently associated with sleep problems in school age youth. Conclusions: Psychopathology symptoms should be regularly assessed in youth presenting to behavioral sleep medicine clinics. Further, the role of psychopathology should be considered in insomnia conceptualization and treatment and, when appropriate, psychopathology symptoms should be targeted in treatment or appropriate referrals should be made.

[Available on 2020-11-01]

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