Results Summary

What was the research about?

People with insomnia have a hard time falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. Black women are among those most likely to have insomnia. Insomnia can affect people’s overall health and daily lives.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is an effective treatment for insomnia. In CBT, patients learn to change patterns of thinking and behavior. With online programs, more people can access CBT.

In this study, the research team compared three online approaches on how well they improved insomnia among Black women:

  • The SHUTi program. Women took an online CBT program with six sessions, each lasting 45 to 60 minutes. Topics included sleep behaviors and beliefs. The program included information, stories, and advice to improve sleep. Women also completed an online sleep diary each day and received automated advice.
  • The SHUTi-BWHS program. Women took a version of the online SHUTi CBT program that had been revised with characters and storylines for Black women. Women also completed the daily sleep diaries and received automated advice.
  • Patient education. Women had access to a website with information about insomnia and good sleep practices.

The research team also looked at how much and how well women slept, their attitudes about sleep, and their sleep behaviors.

What were the results?

Six months after treatment, women in all three approaches showed improvements in:

  • Insomnia
  • How much and how well they slept
  • Sleep behaviors and attitudes

Compared with women receiving patient education, women in SHUTi and SHUTi-BWHS showed more improvement in these sleep outcomes. Women in SHUTi and SHUTi-BWHS were similar in how much they improved.

Physical health improved for women in both SHUTi and SHUTi-BWHS, but not for women receiving patient education. Mental health didn't improve for women in any of the groups.

Women in SHUTi-BWHS were more likely to complete the program than women in SHUTi. Those who completed either program saw greater improvements than those who didn't complete a program.

Who was in the study?

The study included 333 Black women with insomnia. The average age was 59 years. All women were in the Black Women’s Health Study, or BWHS. BWHS is a long-term study of Black women from across the United States.

What did the research team do?

The research team assigned women by chance to one of the three approaches. Women took surveys about sleep habits and attitudes at the start of the study and again nine weeks and six months later.

A patient with insomnia, a patient advocate, and a woman in BWHS—all Black women—worked with the research team to revise SHUTi for Black women.

What were the limits of the study?

All women in this study were in the BWHS and all had internet access; results may differ for other women. Future studies could find out if SHUTi-BWHS works as well for Black women who aren’t in the BWHS.

How can people use the results?

Black women and their doctors can use these results when considering ways to treat insomnia.

Final Research Report

This project's final research report is expected to be available by August 2023. 

Peer-Review Summary

The Peer-Review Summary for this project will be posted here soon.

Project Information

Lynn Rosenberg, ScD, MS, and Eric Zhou, PhD
Boston University
$2,115,495
Reducing Health Disparities for Black Women in the Treatment of Insomnia

Key Dates

November 2017
April 2023
2017
2022

Study Registration Information

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Last updated: December 22, 2022