Results Summary

What was the research about?

Healthy sleep is important for a child’s well-being, school performance, and mood. Doctors can ask children about their sleep health to identify and treat sleep problems. However, few reliable surveys are available for doctors to use to ask children about their sleep.

In this study, the research team created sets of survey questions that asked children or their parents about sleep health. The team interviewed children and their parents to make sure they could understand the questions and that the questions included sleep health topics important to them.

What were the results?

The research team created two sets of survey questions to measure important aspects of children’s sleep health. One set asked about common problems that disturb a child’s sleep and cause trouble falling or staying asleep. The other set asked about ways that sleep problems affect a child’s ability to function during the day, such as problems staying awake or changes in mood. Each set of questions had two versions. In one version, children answered questions about their own sleep. In the other version, parents answered questions about their children’s sleep. Tests showed that the question sets provide a good measure of children’s sleep health.

Who was in the study?

Children with sleep problems, parents of children with sleep problems, and sleep health experts helped the study team decide on the types of questions to include in the survey. The research team also had children and parents check the questions for understanding. Then, the team tested the surveys with 2,676 children ages five to seven and 3,197 parents across the United States, including

  • Children without sleep problems and their parents
  • Children with sleep problems and their parents
  • Children with chronic illnesses that may cause sleep problems and their parents

What did the research team do?

Using a set of questions designed for adults, the research team developed sets of questions for children and their parents to answer to describe the children’s sleep. The team then interviewed 28 children with sleep problems, 33 parents of children with sleep problems, and 8 sleep experts. The team asked whether there were other important questions to add about sleep health. To find more questions about children’s sleep, the team also looked at other surveys.

Next, 32 children and 21 parents read and responded to the new sets of sleep questions. Their answers helped the research team see how well the parents and children understood the questions. The team then changed or removed survey questions that weren’t clear.

Finally, the research team created two surveys with the sleep questions. One survey asked children about their sleep. The other survey asked parents about their children’s sleep. The team used the survey responses to identify the most accurate questions to measure the quality and effects of children’s sleep.

What were the limits of the study?

The survey questions didn’t ask about everything that may affect children’s sleep health. For example, the survey didn’t include other factors that may prevent healthy sleep, such as the level of noise from neighbors.

Future research could translate the survey questions from English into other languages so more people could use the survey. Researchers could also use the survey questions to study how a change in a child’s health affects sleep.

How can people use the results?

Doctors can use some or all of the survey questions to see whether children have sleep problems and how serious those sleep problems are. The results may also help doctors to guide treatment for sleep problems.

Final Research Report

View this project's final research report.

Peer-Review Summary

Peer review of PCORI-funded research helps make sure the report presents complete, balanced, and useful information about the research. It also assesses how the project addressed PCORI’s Methodology Standards. During peer review, experts read a draft report of the research and provide comments about the report. These experts may include a scientist focused on the research topic, a specialist in research methods, a patient or caregiver, and a healthcare professional. These reviewers cannot have conflicts of interest with the study.

The peer reviewers point out where the draft report may need revision. For example, they may suggest ways to improve descriptions of the conduct of the study or to clarify the connection between results and conclusions. Sometimes, awardees revise their draft reports twice or more to address all of the reviewers’ comments. 

The awardee made the following revisions in response to peer review:

  • The awardee reorganized the methods section sequentially, so the awardee could describe the methods for each aim separately. The awardee did this to address reviewers’ concerns about difficulty following the progression of the study.
  • The awardee responded to reviewer questions about a study eligibility requirement that a child be able to self-report outcomes. In doing so, the awardee added more information to the methods section indicating that the awardee asked parents during study enrollment whether their children had any intellectual or developmental disabilities that would prevent their children from completing a study questionnaire. As a result, only a few intellectually disabled children with a rare genetic disorder participated in the study.
  • The awardee underscored that the sleep measure focused on insomnia in children. Further, the awardee pointed out that the measure did not evaluate other pediatric sleep disorders, such as periodic limb movements or hypersomnia.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures

Project Information

Christopher B. Forrest, MD, PhD
The Childrens' Hospital of Philadelphia
$725,165 *
Development of the PROMIS Pediatric Sleep Health Item Banks

Key Dates

September 2014
December 2017

Study Registration Information

Final Research Report

View this project's final research report.

Journal Articles


Has Results
Award Type
State State The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located. View Glossary
Last updated: January 20, 2023