Study finds online test can reliably identify insomnia

An online test can reliably identify insomnia among GP Patients according to a study published in the British Journal of General Practice (BJGP).

The test can take just a few minutes and can screen those likely to suffer from the condition and allow GPs to spend more time on treatment.

Colin Espie, co-author of the study and professor of sleep medicine at Oxford University, said: “Pressure on GPs’ time means that it is important to have an insomnia assessment tool that quickly gets to the right questions, and that is clinically reliable. This brief test can give family doctors more time to spend on treatment, improving outcomes for patients.

“Persistent insomnia is not a trivial matter. It should be identified and actively treated because long-term poor sleep can also exacerbate conditions such as anxiety and depression, as well as weaken the immune system. Better treatment of insomnia could improve the patient’s overall health.”

Around one in 10 of the UK population has a significant insomnia problem, while 79% of GPs see someone with a sleep complaint at least once a week.

Researchers have developed a shortened two-item version of the validated eight-item Sleep Condition Indicator (SCI), Dubbed SCI-02. The new test can be delivered digitally on a tablet, PC or smartphone and reduce assessment time to just a minute or so.

A study involving 190,000 individuals randomly extracted from the online platform or mobile app Sleepio, showed a strong association between identification of individuals using the abridged test, and those going on to take the full-scale SCI.

The two-item digital version of the SCI can be used to rapidly screen for insomnia in routine clinical practice, researchers found. Only for those scoring two or less, indicating insomnia, do GPs then need to assess the complaint further by administering the remaining six items of the SCI, thereby improving their evaluation, while also freeing up time for clinical interpretation and treatment.

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