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Internet-based therapy shows promise for insomnia


4 Star

Internet-based therapy shows promise for insomnia

Our Review Summary

This was a generally well written and balanced story about a small exploratory study on a possible new therapy for insomnia.

The story effectively describes the methodology and patient population and includes expert commentary from independent sources.  The story also appropriately cautions that larger studies with a more diverse patient population are warranted to verify the results and determine their generalizability.   

While the story meets many of our criteria, it would have been greatly improved by providing the reader with quantitative data and some context to help determine if the results translated to any real, meaningful benefit in peoples’ lives.  For example, information on the Insomnia Severity Index, which was used to measure efficacy of the Internet-based program, would have been helpful. A brief exploration of cost, and of any potential harms (or lack of), would also have substantially strengthened the piece.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story mentions that the Internet-based program is a “low-cost” option for treating insomnia; however, nothing more specific regarding cost is provided. It is presumed that the site will be proprietary; if so, what are the expected usage fees? 

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The story states that compared to the control group, the treatment group woke up fewer times, spent fewer minutes awake, and had an improved score; however, the reader is not given any quantitative data or context to determine if these improvements are really meaningful in a person’s life. 

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention any possible harms that may be associated with managing insomnia via an Internet-based program.  For example, might people develop worsening insomnia because of reinforcement of bad habits?  A comment regarding the lack of identifiable harms would have been sufficient.    

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


The story accurately described the methodology and the participants; although this could have been further improved by providing more information about the control group, namely, that they did receive any type of treatment for insomnia. 

Additionally, the story effectively conveyed that this was a small study with a fairly homogenous population. 

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


This story does not directly address the prevalence of insomnia, but the overall tone does not suggest disease-mongering. 

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?


This story includes comments from two independent experts, as well as a study co-author.  The writer also mentions that the study was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


This story includes information on the benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy and working with a therapist for treating insomnia and briefly mentions sleep medications. 

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The story states that this Internet-based program “could one day” be an option for treating insomnia, which suggests that it is not yet ready for prime time.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The story conveyed that this is a novel treatment modality for insomnia.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


The story does not appear to rely on a press release and quotes multiple sources that appear to be from interviews.

Total Score: 7 of 10 Satisfactory


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