A Survey of Sleep Quality in People with Dementia and Their Relatives

What was the issue you were addressing or working on?

The project was aiming to find out information about the sleep quality of patients with dementia and their carers.  There was interest in this area because previous research has found that sleep disturbances in this group have been linked to poorer physical health outcomes; carer physical and emotional role limitations; mental health health-related quality of life. Sleep disturbance associated with caring for someone with dementia has also been reported to be a major reason for institutionalisation.

What you did?

  • The Change Fund was used to invest in a Psychology Assistant to undertake this project.  The participants in the survey were patients with a diagnosis of dementia and their carers known to East Renfrewshire mental health services.
  • Potential participants were asked either in person, via telephone or in writing to complete a survey pack.  The survey packs included an information sheet about the survey, an Insomnia Severity Index and an additional sheet for recording demographic information.  Participants rated their own sleep using the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI).
  • The ISI is a brief self-report measure, its total score ranges from 0 to 28 with higher scores suggestive of more severe insomnia.  Survey results were collated using a computer programme called SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences).
  • Overall, 99 people participated in this survey: 46 people with dementia and 53 carers. Data from 11 participants was excluded from relevant analyses due to incomplete ISI items or consent issues.
  • Data was therefore available for 40 patients (20 male, 20 female) and 48 carers (22 male, 26 female).
  • Within the patient group, overall 42.5% were identified as having a degree of insomnia: 12 had sub-threshold insomnia (30.0%), 3 had clinical insomnia – moderate severity (7.5%) and 2 had clinical insomnia – severe (5%).
  • Within the carer group 66.6% were identified as having some degree of insomnia: 18 had sub-threshold insomnia (37.5%), 10 had clinical insomnia – moderate severity (20.8%) and 4 had clinical insomnia – severe (8.3%).

What were the outcomes - benefits or otherwise?

The information that was obtained regarding the sleep quality of patients with dementia and their carers identified a need to routinely assess and potentially treat sleep problems within this group.  As a result, a staff training package has been developed which aims to increase knowledge and skills in sleep assessment and non-pharmacological intervention.

Contacts - to find out more

Stephanie Crawford can be contacted for further information on this project stephanie.crawford@ggc.scot.nhs.uk