Flinders University researchers will soon develop a world-first pathway to help GPs treat insomnia, in the hope of reducing reliance on sleeping pills for the estimated 2.5 million Australian adults who suffer with chronic insomnia.
With the help of a Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant, Dr Alexander Sweetman will develop the pathway to help GPs identify and refer patients to a specialised digital Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) program for insomnia.
CBT works by targeting the underlying psychological, physiological and behavioural causes of insomnia, as opposed to medications which only mask the surfacing symptom temporarily.
“It has been difficult to administer CBT in general practice because session-based programs are too time consuming, costly and inconvenient for overburdened GPs and patients,” Dr Sweetman explains.
“Consequently, 90 per cent of insomnia patients managed by Australian GPs are prescribed (sleeping pills).”
However, face-to-face CBT programs have recently been translated into an effective self-administered digital program called Sleepio, which has been shown to improve sleep and reduce the need for sleeping pills.
This project will directly improve the sleep, health, and quality of life of individuals participating in the study and contribute to gradually changing the way that insomnia is managed in general practice throughout Australia," says Dr Sweetman.
Flinders Foundation acknowledges the Kaurna people as the traditional custodians of the land on which the Flinders precinct was established. We acknowledge the Kaurna people’s deep and ongoing connection to land, waters and community, and pay our respect to their Elders, past and present.