Sleep quality (Pittsburgh sleep quality index) was measured shortly after diagnosis (pre-treatment), and at 3 and 6 months after finishing treatment. Patients were categorized into 5 trajectory groups. We examined the association of sleep quality trajectories with sociodemographic and clinical characteristics, coping style, HNC symptoms, and psychological distress.
Among 412 included patients, about a half either had a persistent good sleep (37.6%) or an improving (16.5%) trajectory. About a third had a persistent poor sleep (21.8%) or worsening (10.9%) sleep trajectory. The remaining patients (13.1%), alternated between good and poor sleep. Using persistent good sleep as a reference outcome, persistent poor sleepers were more likely to be woman (odds ratio [OR] = 1.98, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.01-3.90), use painkillers prior to treatment (OR = 2.52, 95% CI 1.33-4.77), and have more pre-treatment anxiety symptoms (OR = 1.26, 95% CI 1.15-1.38).
Unfavorable sleep quality trajectories are prevalent among HNC patients from pre-treatment to 6-month after treatment. A periodic sleep evaluation starting shortly after HNC diagnosis is necessary to identify persistent sleep problems, especially among high-risk group.