student profile: Ms Sarah Ellis


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Thesis work

Thesis title: Prevalence, predictors and treatment of sleep difficulties in parents of children and adolescents with a chronic illness: Carers at Night in Paediatrics

Supervisors: Claire WAKEFIELD, Ilona JURASKOVA , Phyllis BUTOW

Thesis abstract:

Numerous studies have identified sleep as a major concern for parents of children with a chronic illness. Prevalence rates of parental sleep disruption range between 15-86% in parents of chronically ill children, which is reflected in significantly reduced total sleep time, increased nocturnal awakenings, and longer sleep latency. Poor sleep is associated with long-term adverse consequences on parents’ physical and psychological health, and may have a direct impact on their capacity to care for their unwell child. Despite a well-documented need for effective sleep-targeted interventions in this population, none currently exist. My thesis comprises: 1.) A systematic review of existing non-pharmacological interventions addressing sleep in children/adolescents with a chronic illness and their parents; 2.) A mixed-methods cross-sectional controlled study to investigate the prevalence and predictors of self-reported sleep quantity and quality among parents of childhood cancer patients during the acute, on-treatment phase; and 3.) A pilot study in compliance with best practice consort guidelines, assessing the feasibility and acceptability of a theoretically-driven multi-component intervention (CAT NAP: Carers at Night in Paediatrics). CAT NAP is based on gold standard treatment for insomnia (CBT-I) and has been specifically tailored to meet the needs of this vulnerable population.

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