Sleep and Aging Skills Group: Development and preliminary evaluation of a psychoeducation and skills group for insomnia in older adult Veterans

Selmi Kallmi, MA

VA Boston Healthcare System – Clinical Psychology Intern
Kallmi_Selmi poster

Scientific Abstract

Background: The Sleep and Aging Skills Group was developed for older adult Veterans (65+) who are experiencing sleep difficulties (e.g., insufficient sleep, insomnia, increased nighttime urination, and nightmares), as well as mild cognitive impairment and functional changes related to medical conditions.  The 6-session skills-building group provides psychoeducation and evidence-based skills (e.g., stimulus control, sleep hygiene, cognitive restructuring, relaxation strategies) to help make meaningful changes to sleep patterns.  

Methods: The group has been offered two times (one virtual; one face to face) in a VA geriatric mental health clinic to Veterans with sleep difficulties. Pre and post quantitative (Insomnia Severity Index [ISI], Sleep Need Questionnaire [SNQ], Patient Health Questionnaire [PHQ-9], Penn State Worry Questionnaire [PSWQ] and brief measures of alcohol use and PTSD symptoms) and qualitative measures were used to assess Veterans’ sleep schedule, sleep habits, perception of sleep and feedback about the group.

Results: 7 Veterans (Mage = 74.6) attended one of the two groups. There was 0% attrition rate and attendees completed at least 4 of the 6 group sessions. Missed material was reviewed independently or with one of the group leaders.  83.3% of Veterans reported that the skills-based group changed how they think about their sleep and 100% of Veterans reported changing their sleep habits.  Although there were no substantial changes in the ISI and SNQ, 66.7% of Veterans reported improvement in their sleep from “very poor” or “poor” to “fair”.  Veterans shared that the skills-based group helped them understand their sleep and create a consistent bedtime.

Conclusions: The Sleep and Aging Skills Group may provide older adult Veterans with cognitive and functional changes with an opportunity to increase their sleep health literacy and learn foundational skills to modify their sleep patterns.  This skills-based group may also adequately prepare interested Veterans for Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I). In the future, we hope to adapt this work to address sleep difficulties in sub-acute rehab settings.

Live Zoom Session – March 9th

research Areas


Selmi Kallmi, MA, Julia T. Boyle, PsyD

Principal Investigator

Julia T. Boyle, PsyD