Experiences and insomnia-associated factors in Chinese breast cancer survivors: a qualitative study

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Aims and objectives.

This study aimed to explore the experiences and factors associated with insomnia in Chinese breast cancer survivors.


Insomnia is a common and significant symptom in breast cancer survivors. Quantitative studies are unable to describe the experience of insomnia and the sleep-associated factors from a personal point of view. A profound understanding of the experience of insomnia in breast cancer survivors can provide information for health workers and caregivers to allow them to provide more effective support.


A descriptive qualitative research was adopted.


In-depth interviews were conducted with 22 insomniac breast cancer survivors. A qualitative content analysis was used to analyse the data.


Three themes emerged concerning the experiences of insomnia, including sleep neglect, insomnia perception and insomnia anxiety. Participants reported their own opinions on three insomnia-associated factors, including factors associated with hospitalisation, factors associated with breast cancer and the therapies and too much attention placed on sleep.


Survivors would neglect their sleep problems in the early stage after diagnosis. When they became aware of their sleep problems, they were inclined to worry too much and sought help from traditional Chinese medicine. Anticipatory sleep anxiety, excessive negative cognitive activities and insomnia became a vicious circle for insomniac breast cancer survivors.

Relevance to clinical practice.

The findings provide detailed information to help nurses understand the experiences of breast cancer survivors with insomnia. Nurses could provide proper care to help prevent insomnia or improve sleep.

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