‘Folk Theories’ About the Causes of Insomnia
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The present study investigates ‘folk theories’ about the causes of insomnia. Participants with insomnia (n = 69) completed a qualitative and quantitative assessment of their folk theories. The qualitative assessment was to speak aloud for 1 min in response to: ‘What do you think causes your insomnia?’. The quantitative assessment involved completing the ‘Causal Attributions of My Insomnia Questionnaire’ (CAM-I), developed for this study. The three most common folk theories for both the causes of one’s own insomnia as well as insomnia in others were ‘emotions’, ‘thinking patterns’ and ‘sleep-related emotions’. Interventions targeting these factors were also perceived as most likely to be viable treatments. Seventy-five percent of the folk theories of insomnia investigated with the CAM-I were rated as more likely to be alleviated by a psychological versus a biological treatment. The results are consistent with research highlighting that folk theories are generally coherent and inform a range of judgments. Future research should focus on congruence of ‘folk theories’ between treatment providers and patients, and the role of folk theories in treatment choice, engagement, compliance and outcome.
KeywordsInsomnia Folk theories Causal attributions
This project was supported by National Institute of Mental Health Grant RO1MH079188. We are grateful to Kerrie Hein & Manon Lamy (Project Co-ordinators), Jennifer Kanady, Jason Lee, Kate Kaplan & Eleanor McGlinchey (Assessors), Lisa S. Talbot, Polina Eidelman, Simon Beaulieu-Bonneau & Émilie Fortier-Brochu (Therapists) and Nicole Short (Coder) for their assistance with this study.
Conflict of Interest
Dr. Morin serves on consulting/advisory boards for Merck, Valeant, Purdue, Novartis, Eli Lilly and the speaker’s bureau for Valeant and Merck. The other authors have no conflict of interest disclosures.
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