The Hit-IT project : The development and evaluation of an internet-based complex intervention for primary healthcare patients with cardiovascular disease and insomnia

Abstract: There is a need to explore insomnia among patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD), since they have increased risk for disease deterioration, poor quality of life and a shorter lifetime expectancy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the main recommended insomnia treatment, although it is a rare treatment choice in the healthcare due to lack of certified CBT therapists.The aim of the thesis was therefore to investigate a nurse-led internet-based CBT for insomnia (I-CBTI) tailored for patients with CVD, that includes qualitative and quantitative measures to explore the patients’ characteristics and treatment motive, insomnia experience, treatment effect, adherence and the usability of a complex intervention called the Hit-IT program.The first paper had a mixed study design to investigate the participants (n=126) sleep, physical and psychological characteristics in relation to insomnia via baseline questionnaires, as well as interviews (n=19) covering their motivation and expectations when participating in the Hit-IT treatment study. The second paper was a qualitative study using a Critical incident technique, to capture the experience of the participants (n=20) with CVD and insomnia sleep situation, and determine how they managed their insomnia. The third paper included 48 participants who were randomised to test the nine-week nurse-led I-CBTI treatment, tailored for patients with CVD or a three-week of self-studies (control group) without support. Paper four was a qualitative study to explore the experience and management of the Hit-IT program.The thesis findings showed that the participants were primarily male participants of older age, and that insomnia symptoms were significantly associated with worse somatic symptom severity, reduced physical quality of life, increased levels of depressive symptoms and cardiac anxiety. The participants were motivated to engage in the Hit-IT study, but were concerned the comorbid condition would be a hindering factor for the required behavioral change if randomized to the nine-week Hit-IT program. The participants also experience physical and cognitive insomnia triggers caused by cardiac symptoms at night. However, the participants in the Hit-IT program group significantly improved their insomnia symptoms compared to the three-week self-study control group. Also, the participants adherent to the Hit-IT program significantly increased their physical quality of life compared to those not adherent to treatment. Moreover, the results showed that the participants had trust in the Hit-IT program and experienced the intervention as very interesting yet challenging. The major treatment adherence facilitator was to experience improved sleep during the course of treatment.The thesis findings conclude that nurses have the skills to deliver a nurse-led I-CBTI treatment, tailored for patients’ with CVD with a sleep improvement outcome. The findings also confirm that primary healthcare patients of older age living with CVD and insomnia, are interested in and able to use internet-based complex interventions to improve their sleep.