A mixed methods expert opinion study on the optimal content and format for an occupational therapy intervention to improve sleep in schizophrenia spectrum disorders

Sophie M. Faulkner*, Richard J. Drake, Margaret Ogden, Maria Gardani, Penny E. Bee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction
People with schizophrenia spectrum disorder diagnoses commonly have poor sleep, which predicts various negative outcomes. The problems are diverse, including substantial circadian dysregulation, sleep-wake timing issues, hypersomnia (excessive sleep), and more classic insomnia.

Methods
This paper reports on a mixed methods expert opinion study based on the principles of Delphi methodology. The study examines and explores opinion on the optimal contents and format for an occupational therapy intervention to improve poor sleep in this population. Views of clinical and academic topic experts (n = 56), were elicited, examined and explored in three rounds, views from previous rounds being presented back to participants in subsequent rounds. Participants with relevant personal experience (n = 26) then rated and commented on suggestions, with a focus on acceptability. Descriptive statistics and graphs of ratings were triangulated with qualitative content analysis of free-text.

Results
Participants emphasised the central importance of intervention personalisation, although the manner and extent of personalisation suggested varied. Many components and domains were acknowledged as important, with the challenge being how to keep such an intervention simple, brief, and feasible for end-users, for sustainable implementation. The strongest consensus was to address evening routine, daytime activity, and environmental interventions. Relaxation, mindfulness, thermoregulation, sensory factors, and cognitive or psychological approaches were rated as less important. There was disagreement on whether to include time in bed restriction, and how to address napping, as well as how far to address medication timing. Clinicians and researchers advocated some version of stimulus control, but participants with personal experience reported low levels of acceptability for this, describing entirely negative experiences using ‘the 15-minute rule’ (part of stimulus control).

Conclusion
These results are informative for clinicians treating sleep problems in people with schizophrenia and related conditions, as well as for decision makers considering the potential contribution of the profession of occupational therapy toward sleep treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0269453
Pages (from-to)1-31
Number of pages31
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume17
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2022

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