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(QU-CPH) graduate research project reveals the prevalence of insomnia among QU students and explores primary care’s role in insomnia management in Qatar | Qatar University

(QU-CPH) graduate research project reveals the prevalence of insomnia among QU students and explores primary care’s role in insomnia management in Qatar

طالبة الماجستير رجاء محمادي

Qatar University’s College of Pharmacy (QU-CPH) MSc student in Clinical Pharmacy and Practice Raja Mahamade Ali recently defended her MSc thesis entitled: “Sleep patterns among university students and insomnia management in primary care in Qatar: A two phase investigation”.
The study aimed to explore the prevalence of insomnia among university students as well as to assess how insomnia is being addressed and managed within Qatar’s main public health services. This study was conducted under the supervision of CPH Assistant Professor Dr. Monica Zolezzi and was co-supervised by CPH Associate Professor Dr. Ahmed Awaisu.
Raja Ali indicated that “University students were selected because they are known to be a population at risk for having sleep disturbances, and primary healthcare centers (PHCCs) were chosen for being the first point of contact with the healthcare system for people who may be experiencing sleeping problems”. She further said: “For the purpose of this study, two questionnaires were used: one investigated the students’ quality of sleep and another explored behavioral and environmental factors which could affect sleep, also known as Sleep Hygiene”.
She also explained that for the second phase of the study, pharmacists and physicians from PHCCs were interviewed and were asked questions regarding the commonly followed approaches for the identification and treatment of insomnia.
The study findings revealed that insomnia affects more than two thirds of Qatar University (QU) students. Poor sleep hygiene practices were also highly prevalent among QU students and appear to contribute substantially (by 4 folds) to the poor quality of sleep identified in this population. The interview to healthcare professionals at PHCC revealed that insomnia is an important health concern which often presents as challenging to manage adequately. Several reasons for these challenges emerged from these interviews, including the complexity of insomnia symptoms and its link to mental illness, the limited availability of pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments, patient attitudes towards insomnia and its treatments, and the lack of local guidelines to guide insomnia management.
Dr Monica Zolezzi highlighted: “We are working closely with QU Student Counselling Center to spread awareness among university students about sleep hygiene and optimal lifestyle habits to help them in improving their sleep quality”. Further research is also needed to quantify the barriers that affect the provision of optimal care for insomnia patients at PHCCs and to design interventions to close these care gaps. “Future projects in this area are needed, and they are certainly in my research agenda for MSc student candidates at CPH” stated Dr. Zolezzi.
Commenting on her research experience Raja Ali said: “My MSc experience was an important journey for me which has helped me in exploring new opportunities and in growing both as a person and a researcher. Each and every challenge I faced in the way helped in strengthening my self-confidence and taught me to never give up and to always navigate new ways for solving problems. The guidance of my supervisors, their positivity and continuous encouragement played an important role in pushing me forward towards the completion of this research project. Through this project I have obtained many valuable research skills which I would not have gotten otherwise”.
The results of this study were shared with the research community through several podium and poster presentations in local and international conferences including the Seventh and Eighth Qatar International Mental Health conferences in December 2018 and 2019 sponsored by Hamad Medical Corporation, the First and Second International Multidisciplinary Conference on Behavioral Health in 2018 and 2019 sponsored by Qatar University, the Lifestyle Medicine Conference in February 2019 sponsored by Weill Cornell Medicine- Qatar and the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists Professional Practice Conference in February 2020 in Toronto, Canada.