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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UNC: Researchers Translate Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index for Use in Rural Iraq

As a young doctor working on complex humanitarian crises in conflict zones in the Middle East, Dr. Dilshad Jaff, program coordinator for solutions to complex emergencies and adjunct assistant professor of maternal and child health at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, witnessed many people suffering from mental health issues. He saw first-hand how stigma around mental health and a lack of knowledge and resources made it challenging to address the high burden of mental health illness in conflict settings.

Today, the world is one tool closer to providing necessary mental health aid during humanitarian crises. That tool is the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), a widely accepted, brief and useful sleep quality measurement tool.

“Mental health is a part of public health,” Dr. Jaff explains. “In order to assess mental health properly, we also need to evaluate sleep quality.”

The PSQI already had been translated into other languages of the Middle East, such as Arabic, Persian and Turkish — but not Kurdish. Jaff and his team worked with professional bilingual translators to get the tool into Kurdish, then back-translate it into English. Then, they tested the translated version with 230 study participants. Of those, 150 were healthy, 40 had insomnia and 40 had physical symptoms. The team found a significant difference in sleep quality between the three groups, validating the tool’s effectiveness.

Dr. Jaff and his team published the study results on June 8 in the journal Sleep Medicine, officially providing public health researchers and medical practitioners with a validated version of the PSQI translated for Kurdish-speaking populations.

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