Cognitive behavioural therapy for post-stroke fatigue and sleep disturbance: a pilot randomised controlled trial with blind assessment

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

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57 Citations (Scopus)


The objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of individual cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for post-stroke fatigue and sleep disturbance compared to treatment as usual (TAU). In a parallel two-group pilot randomised controlled trial of 15 participants, nine were allocated to eight weekly sessions of adapted CBT and six continued usual care rehabilitation. The primary outcome was the Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS-7) at two and four months from baseline. Secondary outcomes included measures of sleep, mood and quality of life. Outcomes were assessed by a rater who was blind to group membership. At the four-month endpoint, the CBT group demonstrated significantly reduced fatigue relative to TAU (FSS-7 mean difference: 1.92, 95% CI: 0.24 to 3.60). Significant group differences also emerged for sleep quality and depression, favouring the CBT group. Insomnia and physical quality of life improved immediately post-therapy but were no longer superior to TAU at follow-up. Overall, CBT is a promising treatment for improving post-stroke fatigue, sleep quality and depression. Gains were maintained for two months after therapy cessation and represented large treatment effects. These findings highlight the feasibility of the intervention and warrant extension to a phase III clinical trial.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)723-738
Number of pages16
JournalNeuropsychological Rehabilitation
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • cognitive behavioural therapy
  • fatigue
  • insomnia
  • rehabilitation
  • Stroke

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