Cognitive Behavior Therapy to Treat Sleep Disturbance and Fatigue After Traumatic Brain Injury: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial

Sylvia Nguyen, Adam John Davy McKay, Dana Wong, Shantha M Rajaratnam, Gershon Spitz, Gavin Williams, Darren Mansfield, Jennie L. Ponsford

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72 Citations (Scopus)


To evaluate the efficacy of adapted cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for sleep disturbance and fatigue in individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Parallel 2-group randomized controlled trial.

Outpatient therapy.

Adults (N=24) with history of TBI and clinically significant sleep and/or fatigue complaints were randomly allocated to an 8-session adapted CBT intervention or a treatment as usual (TAU) condition.

Cognitive behavior therapy.

Main Outcome Measures
The primary outcome was the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) posttreatment and at 2-month follow-up. Secondary measures included the Insomnia Severity Index, Fatigue Severity Scale, Brief Fatigue Inventory (BFI), Epworth Sleepiness Scale, and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale.

At follow-up, CBT recipients reported better sleep quality than those receiving TAU (PSQI mean difference, 4.85; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.56–7.14). Daily fatigue levels were significantly reduced in the CBT group (BFI difference, 1.54; 95% CI, 0.66–2.42). Secondary improvements were significant for depression. Large within-group effect sizes were evident across measures (Hedges g=1.14–1.93), with maintenance of gains 2 months after therapy cessation.


Adapted CBT produced greater and sustained improvements in sleep, daily fatigue levels, and depression compared with TAU. These pilot findings suggest that CBT is a promising treatment for sleep disturbance and fatigue after TBI.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1508-1517
Number of pages10
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017


  • Brain injuries
  • Cognitive therapy
  • Fatigue
  • Rehabilitation
  • Sleep
  • Traumatic

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