Insomnia and Health Services Utilization in Middle-Aged, Older Adults Interview with: Christopher Kaufmann, MHS
Department of Mental Health,
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Hampton House, Room 800
624 North Broadway
Baltimore, MD 21205
email: [email protected] What are the main findings of the study?

Mr. Kaufmann:  The purpose of our study was to examine the association between insomnia and the use of a number of costly health services.  We used data from the Health and Retirement Study, a large nationally representative longitudinal population-based study of US middle-aged and older adults.  We found that individuals who reported a greater number of insomnia symptoms were more likely to report being hospitalized, using home healthcare services, and using nursing homes two years later.  After we accounted for a number of demographic and clinical characteristics, the association between number of reported insomnia symptoms and hospitalization remained statistically significant. How are the findings of your study unique?

Mr. Kaufmann:  While a number of studies have shown that insomnia is associated with greater use of health services, most of these studies have used samples from clinical settings, and focused on younger populations.  Our study found that the results from these studies can be extended to a population of middle-aged and older adults. Furthermore, the majority of studies examining the association between insomnia and use of health services generally have focused on one particular type of health service.  Our study found that insomnia is associated with use of a range of health services. What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Mr. Kaufmann:   Our findings contribute to a growing body of literature that indicates that sleep quality is an important factor in an individual’s overall health. Clinicians should realize that insomnia may be a marker of an underlying physical or psychiatric health condition that requires treatment. Alternatively, insomnia might actually be a cause of or contributor to health conditions that necessitate health service use. Individuals with insomnia should discuss their symptoms with their doctors. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Mr. Kaufmann: Our study only looked at use of health services, but it would be important that future research examine the association between insomnia and the intensity of health service use.  Studies could assess how long a patient uses a particular health service, or how frequently that health service is used.  For example, it might be that individuals with insomnia are hospitalized for a greater number of days than those without insomnia.  Furthermore, research is needed to determine whether prevention or treatment of insomnia symptoms may help prevent various medical conditions and health service utilization.


Insomnia and Health Services Utilization in Middle-Aged and Older Adults: Results From the Health and Retirement Study

Christopher N. Kaufmann, Sarah L. Canham, Ramin Mojtabai, Amber M. Gum, Natalie D. Dautovich, Robert Kohn, and Adam P. Spira
J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci
first published online May 9, 2013


Last Updated on April 19, 2014 by Marie Benz MD FAAD