Understanding sleep disturbances in African-American breast cancer survivors: A pilot study

Teletia R. Taylor, Edward D. Huntley, Kepher Makambi, Jennifer Sween, Lucile L. Adams-Campbell, Wayne Frederick, Thomas A. Mellman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objectives The goals of this study were (i) to report the prevalence and nature of sleep disturbances, as determined by clinically significant insomnia symptoms, in a sample of African-American breast cancer survivors; (ii) to assess the extent to which intrusive thoughts about breast cancer and fear of recurrence contributes to insomnia symptoms; and (iii) to assess the extent to which insomnia symptoms contribute to fatigue. Methods African-American breast cancer survivors completed surveys pertaining to demographics, medical history, insomnia symptoms, and intrusive thoughts about breast cancer, fear of cancer recurrence, and fatigue. Hierarchical regression models were performed to investigate the degree to which intrusive thoughts and concerns of cancer recurrence accounted for the severity of insomnia symptoms and insomnia symptom severity's association with fatigue. Results Forty-three percent of the sample was classified as having clinically significant sleep disturbances. The most commonly identified sleep complaints among participants were sleep maintenance, dissatisfaction with sleep, difficulty falling asleep, and early morning awakenings. Intrusive thoughts about breast cancer were a significant predictor of insomnia symptoms accounting for 12% of the variance in insomnia symptom severity. After adjusting for covariates, it was found that insomnia symptom severity was independently associated with fatigue accounting for 8% of variance. Conclusions A moderate proportion of African-American breast cancer survivors reported significant problems with sleep. Sleep disturbance was influenced by intrusive thoughts about breast cancer, and fatigue was associated with the severity of participants' insomnia symptoms. This study provides new information about sleep-related issues in African-American breast cancer survivors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)896-902
Number of pages7
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • African-American
  • breast
  • cancer
  • sleep
  • survivors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Oncology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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