The purpose of this study was to describe the perceived benefits of a manual standardized stress acupuncture (MSSA) for sleep disturbances (SD) in service members with deployment exposure.
This qualitative study was imbedded in a two-arm randomized controlled trial, mixed-methods research that evaluated the effect of weekly MSSA for four weeks as an adjunct treatment with an abbreviated cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTi) for SD in service members. Participants were randomized to either the experimental group (CBTi and MSSA) and control group (CBTi only). CBTi consisted of one group psychotherapy for 60 minutes, a follow-up telephone therapy for 30 minutes, and additional four 30-minute follow-up sessions via telephone. Participants provided written journal entries by answering five open-ended questions about their treatment experiences at week five during the posttreatment assessment. Journal log entries were transcribed verbatim in the Dedoose software. A thematic content analysis method was used to code emerging themes.
Three overarching categories were found from the qualitative data: personal challenges in implementing the CBTi sleep strategies, no perception of improvement from treatment, and perceived benefits of treatment. The CBTi/MSSA group reported greater benefits in sleep and in other life areas including mental, physical, and social functioning using thematic content analysis.
Findings of this study showed greater improvements in participants’ sleep, mood, physical health, and occupational and social functioning after receiving the combination of CBTi and MSSA. Future research that investigates the long-term effects of CBTi and MSSA may be beneficial among post-deployment service members.
Our study was conducted as part of a mixed-methods study registered with clinicaltrials.gov identifier: NCT04031365.

© 2021 American Academy of Sleep Medicine.