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Logo of bmcpsycBioMed Centralsearchsubmit a manuscriptregisterthis articleBMC Psychiatry
BMC Psychiatry. 2011; 11: 186.
Published online 2011 November 23. doi:  10.1186/1471-244X-11-186
PMCID: PMC3231868

Differences between patients' and clinicians' report of sleep disturbance: a field study in mental health care in Norway



The aims of the study was to assess the prevalence of diagnosed insomnia and the agreement between patient- and clinician-reported sleep disturbance and use of prescribed hypnotic medication in patients in treatment for mental disorders.


We used three cross-sectional, multicenter data-sets from 2002, 2005, and 2008. Data-set 1 included diagnostic codes from 93% of all patients receiving treatment in mental health care in Norway (N = 40261). Data-sets 2 (N = 1065) and 3 (N = 1181) included diagnostic codes, patient- and clinician-reported sleep disturbance, and use of prescribed hypnotic medication from patients in 8 mental health care centers covering 10% of the Norwegian population.


34 patients in data-set 1 and none in data-sets 2 and 3 had a diagnosis of insomnia as a primary or comorbid diagnosis. In data-sets 2 and 3, 42% and 40% of the patients reported sleep disturbance, whereas 24% and 13% had clinician-reported sleep disturbance, and 7% and 9% used hypnotics. Patients and clinicians agreed in 29% and 15% of the cases where the patient or the clinician or both had reported sleep disturbance. Positive predictive value (PPV) of clinicians' evaluations of patient sleep disturbance was 62% and 53%. When the patient reported sleep disturbance as one of their most prominent problems PPV was 36% and 37%. Of the patients who received hypnotic medication, 23% and 29% had neither patient nor clinician-rated sleep disturbance.


When patients meet the criteria for a mental disorder, insomnia is almost never diagnosed, and sleep disturbance is imprecisely recognized relative to the patients' experience of sleep disturbance.

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