Investigating sleep outcomes and mental health in young adults with CF

Jordana McMurray

MARCH 14, 2023

A new research study jointly funded by the Canadian lung Association (CLA) and Cystic Fibrosis Canada is looking at the importance of mental health and sleep in young people with cystic fibrosis (CF), hoping to provide direction that will improve wellbeing and quality of life. 

“I hope the results of this research can help to stress the importance of sleep and good mental health in maintaining day-to-day well-being,” said Jordana McMurray, PhD Candidate at University of Toronto who is leading the study. “Sometimes, in the face of a medically complex chronic illness things like sleep and mental health can be de-prioritized or even overlooked.”

A key principle for Cystic Fibrosis Canada is to partner with organizations where we can help our donor dollars go further. Recently, CF Canada teamed up with the Canadian Lung Association to fund McMurray, who is studying sleep outcomes and its relationship to anxiety and depression symptoms in adolescents and young adults with CF. Thank you to Horizon Pharmaceuticals, for generously supporting our work in the area of mental health.

McMurray, a registered nurse and PhD candidate at the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing at the University of Toronto, whose interest in cystic fibrosis research comes from her clinical background in pediatric respiratory medicine, where she worked predominantly with children and families affected by CF, and volunteer work with Cystic Fibrosis Canada.

Her study, “Actigraphic and Self-reported Sleep Outcomes and Relationships to Anxiety and Depression Symptoms in Adolescents and Young Adults with Cystic Fibrosis: A Mixed Methods Study” will seek to: 

  • Investigate whether participants with CF have increased sleep difficulties and mental health concerns versus their peers without chronic illness;
  • Determine if there is a relationship between poor sleep and worse mental health in those with CF; 
  • Understand the sleep experience from the voices and perspectives of those who have CF.

To complete the study, Jordana will work with participants and ask them to complete questionnaires to measure sleep, symptoms of anxiety and depression and pain. Participants will also be asked to keep a sleep diary and use an actigraph (a device similar to a watch they’ll wear to determine how long a person is asleep based on movements) to record their sleep. Some individuals with cystic fibrosis may also participate in a virtual interview.

When asked about their health priorities for research, the Canadian cystic fibrosis community ranked mental health among the highest. “We are pleased to collaborate with our colleagues at the Canadian Lung Association to jointly fund this impactful work,” said Dr. Paul Eckford, Program Director for Research, Cystic Fibrosis Canada. “This partnership demonstrates how working together in areas of alignment holds the potential to have real impacts for our patient community” said Dr. Eilean McKenzie-Matwiy, National Research Program Manager, Canadian Lung Association.    

McMurray hopes that better understanding the relationship between mental health and sleep in adolescents and young adults with cystic fibrosis will have a significant impact on their future well-being and quality of life. The study is expected to wrap in March of 2024.