In a randomized, controlled pilot study, researchers found brief behavioral treatment for insomnia (BBTI) to improve sleep efficiency in patients with lung cancer. The study’s results were published in the journal Behavioral Sleep Medicine.

BBTI is a concise form of insomnia-oriented cognitive behavioral therapy, the researchers explained in their report.

In this feasibility study ( Identifier: NCT02121652), 40 participants with stage I or II non-small cell lung cancer were randomized to receive either BBTI as an intervention or a control intervention involving a healthy eating program (HEP), with each intervention occurring through 4 weekly sessions. Participants had undergone surgical tumor removal more than 6 weeks prior to the study. The primary study outcome involved improvement in sleep efficiency.

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A total of 30 of the participants, with an average age of 65 years, completed the study. Patients in the BBTI group showed a significant improvement in sleep efficiency of 85% or more (P =.02), while the HEP group did not (P =1.00).

Other outcomes were also examined. The mean Insomnia Severity Index score dropped more over the course of the study in the BBTI group than in the HEP group (P =.001). Mean Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Lung Scale scores were also improved with BBTI, while worsening for the HEP group (P =.049).

According to the researchers, BBTI was shown to be efficacious and feasible to implement in the ambulatory setting of the study. “The interdisciplinary practice of sleep medicine provides an opportunity for nurses and other clinicians to enhance the widespread dissemination of BBTI to reduce the disease burden of insomnia and improve well-being,” concluded the researchers in their report.


Dean GE, Weiss C, Jungquist CR, et al. Nurse-delivered brief behavioral treatment for insomnia in lung cancer survivors: a pilot RCT. Behav Sleep Med. 2020;18(6):774-786. doi:10.1080/15402002.2019.1685523