The Brief Sleep Disturbance Scale: Measuring Sleep Disturbance Among Cancer Patients

Principal Investigator: Karen O. Anderson, Ph.D.

Patients experiencing a life-threatening illness frequently report sleep disturbances such as insomnia or hypersomnia. Sleep disturbance among cancer patients, however, has received limited research attention. Estimates of the prevalence of sleep disturbance in samples of cancer patients have ranged from 23% to over 50%. A limited number of screening tools are available to detect sleep problems in adults. None of the tools were designed specifically for cancer patients.

Specific Goals

  • To establish concurrent criterion-related validity of the Brief Sleep Disturbance Scale (BSDS) by correlating the scale with the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index
  • To evaluate the construct validity of the BSDS through exploratory factor analysis
  • To examine possible predictors of sleep disturbance
  • To evaluate the reliability of the BSDS using Cronbach’s coefficient alpha and test-retest reliability
  • To evaluate the sensitivity of the BSDS by administering it to the same group of patients prior to treatment with a regimen associated with sleep disturbance, at intervals throughout treatment and upon completion of treatment
  • To evaluate the psychometric properties of the BSDS in a sample of community-dwelling adults


The outpatients who agree to participate in the study will complete the surveys on the day of the clinic visit. The inpatients who agree to participate will complete the surveys in the unit. The time points for survey completion will be determined individually by each patient population and treatment modality, given that disease and treatment may influence the prevalence and severity of sleep disturbance. In general, the planned repeated assessments will occur: 

  1. At pretreatment
  2. During the acute phase of treatment
  3. When treatment-related symptoms are resolving
  4. Posttreatment

If the patient is admitted or returning to the hospital or clinic during the determined time points, the study staff will collect the data. Patients who will not be returning to the hospital or clinic will be given packets to mail at determined time points. The study staff will monitor these patients by telephone.


Measures include the Brief Sleep Disturbance Scale, the Brief Fatigue Inventory (BFI), the MD Anderson Symptom Inventory (MDASI), the Profile of Mood States (POMS), the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI).

For more information

Contact:  Karen O. Anderson, Ph.D., at