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Sleep and Performance Research Center

Human Sleep and Symptom Management


Areas of Interest

Sleep and pain symptom self-management, sleep disturbances and opioid use disorder, health and patient safety for shift-working nurses, e-health and m-health interventions

Research Scope

At the core of symptom self-management is the goal to build self-efficacy (confidence) in living with chronic conditions. Sleep disturbances are intertwined with other distressing symptoms including pain, negative affect (depression and anxiety), and substance use withdrawal. Sleep disturbances can also lead to performance deficits and long-term health concerns. Through innovations to assist individuals in managing symptoms, improved outcomes can be achieved, such as reduced pain interference in daily life, improved mood, better sleep quality, and reduced substance use.

Research Focus

My research focuses on the relationship between sleep, pain, and related health outcomes in populations of adults with chronic pain, opioid use and misuse, and opioid use disorder. My research teams have measured sleep, pain, and negative affect among Veterans with chronic pain and adults receiving opioids as part of medication-assisted behavioral treatment for opioid use disorder. We examine self-reported symptoms along with objective actigraphy data. Through understanding the relationship of symptoms, we can help people create self-management plans that focus on a cluster of symptoms or target a specific symptom, knowing that either approach can result in overall health improvements and improved quality of life. Our research tests online E-health and mobile health interventions to improve regulation of symptoms, boost self-efficacy in managing disease, and reduce reliance on opioid medicines. My teams have also conducted field and simulation-based studies to examine the effects of long working shifts on performance and health in nurses. Our current focus on cultural norms within nursing work environments explores what contributes to and detracts from nurses receiving restorative rest breaks.

Approaches Used

  • Actigraphy
  • Psychomotor Vigilance Test
  • Simulated critical tasks
  • Validated survey instruments
  • Self-management interventions

Grant Support

  • National Institutes of Health
  • Washington State Department of Health
  • American Society for Pain Management Nursing
  • Inland Northwest Community Foundation
  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality/U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Northwest Center for Public Health Practice/University of Washington Community-based Training Partner Funds