Partner-assisted cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia versus cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia: A randomised controlled trial

Alix Mellor, Kellie Hamill, Melissa M. Jenkins, Donald H. Baucom, Peter J. Norton, Sean P. A. Drummond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Insomnia is a prevalent sleep disorder associated with significant economic and personal burdens. Cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBTI) is considered the gold standard intervention for insomnia and its efficacy has been well demonstrated. However, the core treatment strategies of CBTI require significant behavioural change, which many individuals find challenging. As a result, although CBTI is efficacious, its effectiveness is reduced by modest levels of adherence in typical clinical settings. This is problematic as adherence is essential to attain desired treatment outcomes. Sleep is often a dyadic process, with approximately 60% of Australian adults sharing a bed. Hence, the present study aims to determine whether incorporating bed partners into treatment for insomnia increases treatment adherence and completion. The impact of adherence on symptoms of insomnia will also be examined. Methods: This study is a mixed-effects randomised effectiveness trial of partner-assisted CBTI (PA-CBTI). It is an "effectiveness" (as opposed to "efficacy") trial, due to the focus on "real world" clinic-based clients and adherence/attrition as outcomes. Participants will include 120 clients with insomnia who are randomly assigned, in equal numbers, to PA-CBTI, traditional individual CBTI (i-CBTI), or partner-assisted sleep management therapy (PA-SMT; which serves as the control group). All interventions consist of seven weekly 1-h sessions. Treatment outcome is evaluated using clinician-rated treatment adherence, and diary-based adherence to stimulus control and sleep restriction. Clients and partners complete major assessments at pre- and post-treatment, and at 6-month follow-up. Secondary outcome variables include actigraphy, self-report measures related to sleep, comorbid psychopathology, and relationship functioning. Discussion: This is the first randomised clinical trial to examine the impact of incorporating the bed partner in the treatment of insomnia. Results will provide new information about the role partners play in clients' insomnia presentation and treatment response, and better define the role of adherence in CBTI. This trial has the potential to optimise treatment outcomes for insomnia by improving adherence and reducing attrition. Results could have far-reaching impacts. Improvements in insomnia have been linked to improvements in mental and physical health and, given the high financial costs of insomnia, this study could have a positive economic impact. Trial registration: ACTRN, ACTRN12616000586415. Registered on 5 May 2016.

Original languageEnglish
Article number262
Number of pages12
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2019


  • Bed partner
  • CBTI
  • Couples
  • Insomnia
  • Partner-assisted interventions
  • Sleep

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