Is Internet Delivered Cognitive Behavioral Therapy feasible for insomnia in lupus patients?


Study Title:

Internet Delivered Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia – a feasibility study of uptake and acceptability for people with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.


Principal Investigator: 

Deborah Da Costa, Scientist, Research Institute, McGill University Health Centre, Metabolic Disorders and Complications Program, Centre for Outcomes Research and Evaluation; Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Research Scientist, Arthritis Research Canada


Start Date:

March 2019


End Date:

February 2021


Why do this research?

Sleep disturbances, including difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, and/or waking up early in the morning are all symptoms of insomnia. They are, reported in up to 80% of persons with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). Sleep disturbances worsen other symptoms of SLE including fatigue, pain, and depression causing poor quality of life. For most people with SLE, insomnia is unrecognized and untreated. The first-line treatment for insomnia is cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBTi), but no study has evaluated its intervention in people with SLE.

This study will adapt an internet delivered CBTi (ICBTi) intervention to the needs of persons living with SLE experiencing insomnia and gather pilot data to determine its uptake, acceptability and preliminary data on its effects in terms of improving sleep and other symptoms such as fatigue and depression. This study fills an important gap in SLE care and will provide new knowledge on the acceptability and preliminary benefits of a nondrug intervention for managing insomnia in SLE. 


What will be done?

We will conduct an on-line needs assessment of people with SLE focused on insomnia and refine the ICBTi program. Then, we will test the acceptability of the program and initial effectiveness of the program by enrolling people with SLE suffering from insomnia for a 6-week period to gather their feedback about the program and monitor their symptoms. They will be re-evaluated 3 months after completion of the program.


Who is on the research team?


Paul R Fortin, Tenured Professor, Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, Université Laval; Canada Research Chair on Systemic Autoimmune Rheumatic Diseases; Clinician-Scientist, Centre de recherche du CHU de Québec-Université Laval; Senior Scientist, Arthritis Research Canada

Josee Savard, PhD, Full professor, School of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Université Laval

Elham Rahme, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University

Our multidisciplinary team includes experts in behavioral medicine, insomnia, rheumatology, e-health, biostatistics, as well as several stakeholders including Lupus Canada, the sole national lupus patient organization, The Canadian Network for Improved Outcomes in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (CaNIOS) and patient advisers.

Participants for the on-line needs assessment will be recruited via a link to the in the Lupus Canada July e-newsletter and other Lupus Canada social media outlets. The pilot study will be launched in Fall 2020. We plan to recruit 15 persons with SLE experiencing insomnia in the Montreal area.


Funding Agency:

Canadian Institutes of Health Research


How do people get involved?

Recruitment for the needs assessment is ongoing. Click on this link for more information. https://portal.rimuhc.ca/cim/redcap/surveys/?s=ADPLL9KJDJ