New practice guideline addresses need for sleep resources

The Partnership is pleased to join with the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology in releasing the first pan-Canadian guideline to help adults with cancer who struggle to sleep.

“We know that up to 60% of patients will experience a sleep disturbance,” says Dr. Doris Howell of Toronto’s Princess Margaret Hospital, who led the development team for the Partnership-sponsored project.

“Sleep disturbances are often underestimated and overlooked in cancer populations. Patients report the need for greater attention to sleep disturbance early in the cancer journey and access to effective interventions. Unfortunately, patients may suffer silently with this problem assuming it to be a normal and untreatable side-effect of cancer treatment.”

The evidence-based guideline, A Pan-Canadian Practice Guideline: Prevention, Screening, Assessment and Treatment of Sleep Disturbances in Adults with Cancer, offers health-care providers information about strategies and interventions across a broad range of sleep related issues. It recommends routine screening for sleep issues, provides information on assessment as well as insight into what has been shown to be effective in helping patients.

The guideline was produced through a collaborative partnership between the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology and the Partnership. It benefited from the expertise of wide range of contributors throughout the development process.

Sleep disturbance is considered a separate issue from cancer related fatigue. A practice guideline for fatigue was created in 2011 and is also available online.

Evidence-based guidelines

The Partnership supports the development of pan-Canadian evidence-based guidelines in several ways. A Guidelines Resource Centre is available on the cancer resource portal,, as well as the SAGE Directory of Clinical Practice Guidelines.