A pragmatic effectiveness randomized controlled trial of the duration of psychiatric hospitalization in a trans- diagnostic sample of patients with acute mental illness admitted to a ward with either blue-depleted evening lighting or normal lighting conditions
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Background There is increasing recognition of the need to stabilize sleep-wake cycles in individuals with major mental disorders. As such, clinicians and researchers advocate the use of interventions targeted at sleep and circadian dysrhythmias as an adjunct to the standard treatments offered for acute illness episodes of a broad range of diagnoses. To determine the trans-diagnostic generalizability of chronotherapy, we explore the benefits of admitting individuals with an acute illness episode to a psychiatric inpatient unit where changes in light exposure are integrated into the therapeutic environment. Methods/design A two-arm, pragmatic effectiveness, randomized controlled treatment trial, where individuals admitted for acute inpatient psychiatric care will be allocated to a ward with blue-depleted evening light or to a ward with the same layout and facilities but lacking the new lighting technology. The trial will test whether the experimental lighting conditions offer any additional benefits beyond those associated with usual treatment in an acute psychiatric inpatient unit. The main objectives are to examine any differences between groups in the mean duration of hospitalization in days. Additional analyses will compare group differences in symptoms, functioning, medication usage, and side effects and whether length of stay is associated with stability of sleep-wake cycles and circadian rhythms. Ancillary investigations should determine any benefits according to diagnostic subgroups and potential drawbacks such as any adverse effects on the well-being of professionals working across both wards. Discussion This unit offers a unique opportunity to explore how exposure to different lighting conditions may modify sleep-wake cycles and how any changes in sleep-wake cycle may impact on the clinical and functional outcomes of individuals experiencing an acute episode of a severe mental disorder that requires inpatient care. The findings could influence the future design of hospital units offering care to patients with mental or physical disorders.