Where the Money Goes

You are here

Web-Based Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment for Insomnia in Adolescent Cancer Survivors

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Eric Zhou, PhD
Grant Type: 
Psychosocial Grants
Year Awarded: 
Type of Childhood Cancer: 
General Pediatric Cancer
Project Description: 


The treatments that cure pediatric cancer can be intensive and place these young patients at high risk for the development of chronic insomnia. Approximately 1 in 4 pediatric cancer survivors suffer from sleep that is so problematic that they describe it as “more overwhelming than the effects of cancer treatment.” This insomnia is frequently overlooked by both the patients and their doctors because it is viewed as a temporary reaction to the cancer diagnosis or treatment, despite how long the symptoms endure. If it is left untreated, chronic insomnia can have significant consequences on the child's behavior, social relationships, school performance, mood and physical health. The cognitive-behavioral treatment for insomnia has been proven to be the most effective therapy because it treats the underlying disorder, instead of the symptoms as medication does. Unfortunately, these treatment protocols were designed for and tested in adult populations. Without adapting treatment for the unique needs of pediatric cancer survivors, treatment is likely to be ineffective at best and potentially harmful at worst. 

Project Goal

To resolve this clear issue, we propose to tailor intervention protocols to the developmentally unique sleep and circadian patterns of this young population and to address the late effects of their cancer treatment that impact their sleep. We will work collaboratively with a technical team to deliver this intervention using a web-based approach, enhancing its acceptability for young survivors and dramatically improving treatment accessibility for the many patients who do not live near their cancer center.

"ALSF funding will have a tremendous impact on my career by allowing me to develop and pilot a web-based insomnia intervention that has the potential effectively treat a common disorder in pediatric cancer survivors, with significant health consequences if it is ignored. This novel program will be the first of its kind and will not only advance our understanding of how to help patients with sleep disorders, but will serve as a platform from which I can launch a career in improving the treatment of long-term consequences of cancer therapy." -- Eric Zhou

Co-funded by: 
Northwestern Mutual Foundation