Relieving Insomnia in Childhood Cancer Survivors

Megan Morrey Research Updates, Stories

Eric Zhou, PhD at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston is studying how to relieve insomnia for childhood cancer survivors.

The problem:

Childhood cancer survivors commonly suffer from sleep disorders like insomnia. Lack of sleep leads to bigger health problems like depression, behavioral problems and worsened physical health outcomes. Currently, there are no FDA-approved drugs for children with insomnia. For patients who haven’t had cancer, but who do have insomnia, behavioral interventions have been successful. But, the same interventions might not work for childhood cancer survivors, and an insomnia study has never solely focused on these patients.

How his research will help:

Dr. Zhou’s lab is hoping to to adapt an evidence-based treatment program designed for children without a chronic medical illness to help childhood cancer survivors improve their sleep health. “By the end of our trial, we want… families to feel as though they can regain control over their child’s sleep,” he said. Dr. Zhou’s study is significant because a study like this has never happened before.

CCRF’s grant will help Dr. Zhou conduct interviews with the families to understand how to better tailor the program materials for their child’s needs, and it will help researchers identify families in need of sleep-related health and enter them into the trial.

“Insufficient and disrupted sleep has such meaningful consequences,” said Dr. Zhou. “Helping those at greatest need is fulfilling from a professional and personal perspective.”

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