Primary care provider evaluation and management of insomnia

Joy Sun, Miranda V. McPhillips, Ker Cheng Chen, Yinyin Zang, Junxin Li, Jessica Oehlke, Glenna S. Brewster, Nalaka S. Gooneratne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Study Objectives: To evaluate the type and extent of information collected from patients with insomnia during their first office encounter for insomnia and the prescribing therapies of primary care providers during this initial encounter. Methods: This study was a retrospective chart review of randomly selected patients who had a primary care provider office visit at any clinic affiliated with a university medical system between March 1, 2013, and March 1, 2016. Demographic and clinical information was abstracted for analysis. Results: Our sample (n = 200) was primarily female (63.5%),White (69%), middle-aged (ages 44.6 ± 15.1 years) adults. Most (68.5%) encounter notes did not have significant information related to insomnia risk factors and symptoms (< 50% of the notes). When examining comorbidities, we found that younger patients (<45 years old) were more likely to have anxiety linked to insomnia (P =.025), whereas older patients (⪚45) were less likely to have any identified comorbidities associated with insomnia (P =.009). Only 5.0% of patients with insomnia were referred for cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia, whereas 51.5%of patients were prescribed sleep medications. The younger cohort was statistically more likely to receive sleep hygiene or cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia as a treatment option in comparison to the older cohort (P = .01 and P = .04, respectively). Conclusions: Progress notes from primary care providers tend to have a paucity of information on insomnia symptoms and related comorbidities. Medications are often prescribed as the first-line treatment for insomnia. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia remains underutilized despite robust evidence suggesting that cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia is a safe and effective treatment for insomnia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1083-1091
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Sleep Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2021


  • CBT-I
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Insomnia
  • Prescribing therapy
  • Primary care provider
  • Sleep diary
  • Sleep study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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