Sleep disturbance in people with brain tumours and caregivers: a survey of healthcare professionals’ views and current practice



Sleep disturbance is easily overlooked in subspecialty consultations and may remain untreated during and after initial treatment of malignant brain tumours (BT). This study aimed to explore perceptions of healthcare professionals (HCPs) actively engaged in neuro-oncology care towards sleep disturbance in adults with primary or secondary BT and to identify facilitators and barriers to assessment and management of sleep disturbance.


A survey was conducted to explore HCPs’ perceptions about their knowledge, skills, and confidence in managing sleep disturbance in people with BT. The survey also explored their beliefs, motivation, and perceived role in managing sleep disturbance, and views on contributing external factors that impacted management.


Seventy-three interdisciplinary HCPs with average of 9.3 years of clinical experience in neuro-oncology participated. Fifty-five percent of participants were medical or radiation oncologists. Participants reported a high observed prevalence of sleep disturbance, especially in inpatient settings, during initial treatment, and after tumour progression or recurrence. Only 20% of participants reported routinely reviewing sleep-related symptoms during consultations. General symptom screening questions were perceived as helpful to identify sleep disturbance. Almost all respondents (92%) viewed corticosteroids as the most relevant risk factor, followed by psychological distress. The most frequent clinical responses were offering verbal advice and prescribing medication. The lack of time, resources, and training for managing sleep issues were commonly reported barriers.


Overall, participants perceived sleep disturbance as highly prevalent in neuro-oncology and positively viewed the importance of managing this symptom. Practical barriers to management were reported that future interventions can target.

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We thank the Cooperative Trials Group for Neuro-Oncology (COGNO) for assistance with participant recruitment.

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Correspondence to Megan S. Jeon.

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The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethics approval

This study was approved by the University of New South Wales Human Research Ethics Advisory Panel and performed in accordance with the ethical standards as laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki.

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Jeon, M.S., Dhillon, H.M., Koh, ES. et al. Sleep disturbance in people with brain tumours and caregivers: a survey of healthcare professionals’ views and current practice. Support Care Cancer 29, 1497–1508 (2021).

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  • Clinician survey
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Brain tumour
  • Sleep management
  • Neuro-oncology care