Professor Niro Siriwardena on primary care management of insomnia at Royal Society of Medicine

CBTiRSM2014Prof Niro Siriwardena was one of the invited speakers at the Royal Society of Medicine conference on CBT for insomnia disorder: evidence base and practical implementation methods, where he spoke on ‘Applying CBT for insomnia in general practice’. This was based on work from the Resources for Effective Sleep Treatment project ( which is a programme of work exploring the potential for using psychological treatments for insomnia routinely in primary care instead of sleeping tablets.

Niro@RSM2014._750The event, which took place on 19 November in London was organised by Prof Colin Espie, sleep expert  at Oxford University. He introduced a number of distinguished speakers, international experts in their field, including Prof Charles Morin from Quebec who gave an overview of insomnia and CBT efficacy studies; Prof Kevin Morgan from Loughborough University who spoke on CBT for insomnia in older adults; Dr June Brown on small and large group CBT; Dr John Cape on CBT bibliotherapy for insomnia; and Dr Simon Kyle who discussed abbreviated and single component CBT for insomnia. Finally, Prof Espie presented on digital CBT-I.

REST e-learning programme:

REST e-learning programme:

The meeting was well attended by practitioners and academics from primary, community and mental health sectors of the health service. The CaHRU team are currently investigating the potential for community pharmacists to implement psychological treatment for insomnia instead of over-the-counter hypnotics in a feasibility study in Lincolnshire.

Sleep, health and wellbeing: NICE Topic Advisory Workshop

Professor Niro Siriwardena, director of CAHRU, attended a National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) topic advisory workshop on sleep, health and wellbeing. The event was hosted by NICE and chaired by Professor Colin Espie, Professor in the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neuroscience at the University of Oxford.

Manchester1Attendees were invited experts on sleep and insomnia including sleep scientists, clinical respiratory specialists, public health experts interested in problems of insomnia at various ages from around the United Kingdom. Delegates contributed to discussions about the importance of sleep at various ages, the effects of insomnia on health and the public health implications of poor sleep. The main outcome of the meeting was agreement that sleep was an important public health issue and that NICE would consider developing a public health guideline for insomnia.

Professor Siriwardena and the CaHRU team have been working over the past few years on studies aimed at improving primary care for insomnia. This will be the topic of a conference at the Royal Society of Medicine, London, where experts from the UK and US will discuss ‘CBT for insomnia disorder: evidence base and practical implementation methods‘ on 19 November 2005.

Online communities and social networking platforms for computerised therapies

A new study investigating how computerised cognitive behavioural therapy (CCBT) can be enhanced through the use of social networking platforms was published in the British Journal of General Practice in December 2012.  This qualitative study, funded by the EPSRC and conducted by members of the CaHRU team, Jo Middlemass, Dr Zowie Davy and Professor Niroshan Siriwardena, explored patient and practitioner perspectives on CCBT programmes for insomnia (CCBT-I) which would included social networking.

The objectives of the interview study were:

  • To explore patient and professional perspectives, attitudes, expectations and beliefs towards online health care programmes;
  • To identify participants’ preferences for content, style and information disclosure to health professionals or fellow sufferers;
  • To investigate barriers and facilitators of access, use and adherence to CCBT with a focus on sleep problems and insomnia.

Two meta-themes emerged as key to enhancing uptake and adherence to a potential new CCBT-I package: the need for trust (in the programme, in the patient-professional relationship and in online peer support) and the functionality of the CCBT-I package, with potential users expressing a preference for it to be interactive, individualised and easily navigable.

The findings from the interview study have been incorporated into a novel online CCBT-I package which is currently undergoing testing, designed by a team led by Professor Shaun Lawson who leads the Lincoln Institute of Social Computing (LiSC) with co-investigator Dr Conor Linehan, both based in the School of Computer Science, University of Lincoln.

The study was published in the Br J Gen Pract December 2012; 62 (605): 642-643 with the full-length article available through open access: Middlemass J, Davy Z, Cavanagh K, Linehan C, Morgan K, Lawson S, Siriwardena AN. Integrating online communities and social networks with computerised treatment for insomnia: a qualitative study of service user and primary health care professional perspectives. Br J Gen Pract 2012; 62:e840-e850 doi: 10.3399/bjgp12X659321.

Community and Health Research Unit at SAPC and RCGP Annual Scientific Meeting, Glasgow

Members of the Community and Health Research Unit from the University of Lincoln recently attended the combined Society of Academic Primary Care and RCGP Annual Scientific Meeting in Glasgow where they were selected to give five oral presentations on some of the team’s current research into cardiovascular disease, adult vaccination and insomnia treatment. The conference provided a wonderful opportunity for junior and senior members of the team to present work at an international conference. 

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REST project featured on ITN Tonight documentary on insomnia

The Resources for Effective Sleep Treatment (REST) project, led by Prof Niro Siriwardena, was featured on “Tonight” the flagship ITV1 documentary programme,  the highest rating current affairs series on UK television for the past decade. In the programme “Waking up to Insomnia” screened on 17 November at 7:30pm, Geraint Vincent revealed some results of the Great British Sleep Survey and found out from sufferers how it affected their lives. The programme discussed the problems of insomnia, why sleeping tablets were not a good solution and why Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for insomnia (CBTi) although effective is not widely available in the NHS. The REST project funded by the Health Foundation aimed to improve primary care for insomnia by developing primary care friendly sleep assessment and CBTi. A follow-on translational project, Improving Primary Care Resources for Effective Sleep Treatment (IPCREST) funded by East Midlands Health Innovation and Educational Cluster aims to spread the learning through seminars, workshops and an e-learning programme for healthcare practitioners. Further information is available on the University website and at the REST website. Niro is presenting on “How to provide better care for insomnia: Resources for effective sleep treatment in the general practice consultation” at the Sleep and Mental Health conference at the Royal Society of Medicine on 23 November 2011.