Sleep study seeks cancer survivors

Staff report

TROY, OHIO — Cancer survivors experiencing sleep problems are being sought for an insomnia study at the Upper Valley Medical Center (UVMC) Cancer Care Center, a part of Premier Health.

Informational sessions about the URCC 14040 Treatment for Insomnia Study will be Sept. 19, at 6 p.m., and Sept. 21, at 1 p.m., in the UVMC Physician Office Building Conference Room 1. Oncology professionals will be on hand to share information and answer questions.

At least 15 participants are needed to initiate the study provided through the Dayton Clinical Oncology Program and sponsored by the University of Rochester. UVMC is one of the first sites nationally to participate in the study.

To be eligible for the study, participants must have had a cancer diagnosis, completed treatment in the past two to 24 months and have moderate to severe sleep problems. Participants will be compensated for their time.

Those who have a diagnosis of sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome or who have had prior yoga practice in the past three months are not eligible for the study.

“A majority of cancer survivors, up to 90 percent, have sleep disorders or insomnia. They are underdiagnosed and undertreated,” said registered nurse Heather Penwell, oncology coordinator of clinical trials at UVMC. Current treatments include medication and traditional exercise.

This study will compare the effectiveness of yoga, survivorship health education and cognitive behavioral therapy in treating sleep problems in cancer survivors.

“We’re thrilled to be a part of this research to explore how certain complementary wellness modalities and education can have a positive impact for cancer survivors who experience sleep issues,” said Jean Heath, director of cancer care and community wellness at UVMC. “We are interested in anything that may be of benefit to our patients.”

Once 15 qualified participants have volunteered, they will be randomly assigned by computer to one of three groups representing the three categories of treatment.

“These are three totally different approaches to see which one is better helping to improve sleep quality,” Penwell said.

The groups will be conducted by trained instructors and meet at UVMC. The yoga and health education groups will meet two times a week for four weeks. The cognitive behavioral therapy group will meet once a week for eight weeks.

In addition to the groups, participants will complete five assessments, questionnaires, fasting blood draws and tests to measure their physical ability, such as a hand-to-grip-strength test and a six-minute walk test. They also will be asked to wear an Actigraphs on their wrists and waists to measure activity.

Amanda Brown, of Piqua, a registered yoga teacher through the National Yoga Alliance, will instruct the yoga study group.

“I am very excited for the opportunity to participate in this clinical trial. I have seen firsthand the therapeutic benefits of yoga for cancer patients on a wide scale — reduced physical pain and fatigue, reduced stress and anxiety, positive boost in mood, etc., so I am interested to see the findings on the effectiveness of yoga to improve sleep,” Brown said.

The cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) group will be led by Dianna Burgess, a licensed professional clinical counselor. The therapy method uses the concept of thoughts and feelings influencing behaviors.

“With the study, we will be utilizing specific CBT techniques to bring recognition to what the participants do, by tracking those activities, and then assessing how those things may impact their thoughts and feelings as well as their positive or negative perspectives,” Burgess said. “My hope is that through this study, we can learn more about what may improve a person’s journey through cancer and recovery by using cognitive behavioral therapy techniques.”

The study is projected to launch later this year and will run for approximately eight months. For more information or to volunteer to participate, call 937-440-4822.

Staff report