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Associations of sleep disturbance with physical function and cognition in older adults with cancer

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Abstract

Purpose

Although sleep disturbances are common in older adults, studies evaluating the prevalence of sleep disturbance and its influence on functional outcomes in older adults with cancer are few. In this study, we examined the prevalence of sleep disturbance and its association with physical function and cognition in older adults with cancer.

Methods

This is a cross-sectional study of patients who were referred and evaluated in the Specialized Oncology Care & Research in the Elderly (SOCARE) clinics at the Universities of Rochester and Chicago from May 2011 to October 2015. All patients underwent a geriatric assessment (GA) as part of their routine evaluation. Our final study cohort included patients who completed a sleep assessment and consented to the study. We collected demographics (age, sex, race, marital status, and education level) and clinical characteristics (depression, comorbidity, cancer type, and stage) from the GA and medical chart reviews. Presence of sleep disturbance was self-reported (yes/no). Physical function was assessed using Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs), physical activity (PA) survey, falls in the preceding 6 months, and Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB). Cognition was screened using the Blessed Orientation-Memory-Concentration Test (impairment >4) or Montreal Cognitive Assessment (impairment <26). Bivariate and multivariable analyses were used to examine the associations between sleep disturbance with functional outcomes and cognition.

Results

We included 389 older patients. The prevalence of sleep disturbance was 40%. Sixty-eight percent had ≥1 IADL impairment, 76% had PA limitation, 37% had ≥1 fall, 70% had impairment on SPPB, and 47% screened positive for cognitive impairment. On bivariate analyses, sleep disturbance was associated with IADL impairment (odds ratio [OR] 1.96, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.23–3.13, P = 0.005), and PA limitation (OR 2.43, 95% CI 1.38–4.28, P = 0.002). The associations remained significant on multivariable analyses. Sleep disturbance was not significantly associated with falls, impairment on SPPB, and performance on the cognitive screen.

Conclusion

Sleep disturbance was associated with IADL impairment and PA limitation. It is important for oncologists to inquire about sleep problems, and these patients should also be screened for functional impairment if sleep disturbance was present.

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Acknowledgement

We wish to acknowledge Dr. Susan Rosenthal for her editorial assistance.

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Correspondence to Supriya Gupta Mohile.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Compliance with ethical standards

The project was approved by University of Rochester’s Research Subjects Review Board and the University of Chicago’s Institutional Review Board.

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Loh, K.P., Pandya, C., Zittel, J. et al. Associations of sleep disturbance with physical function and cognition in older adults with cancer. Support Care Cancer 25, 3161–3169 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-017-3724-6

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