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BACKGROUND: Insomnia symptoms are associated with type 2 diabetes incidence but are also associated with a range of potential time-varying covariates which may confound and/or mediate associations. We aimed to assess whether cumulative exposure to insomnia symptoms has a causal effect on type 2 diabetes incidence. METHODS: A prospective cohort study in the West of Scotland, following respondents for 20 years from age 36. 996 respondents were free of diabetes at baseline and had valid data from up to four follow-up visits. Type 2 diabetes was assessed at the final visit by self-report, taking diabetic medication, or blood-test (HbA1c ≥ 6.5% or 48 mmol/mol). Effects of cumulative insomnia exposure on type 2 diabetes incidence were estimated with traditional regression and marginal structural models, adjusting for time-dependent confounding (smoking, diet, physical inactivity, obesity, heavy drinking, psychiatric distress) as well as for gender and baseline occupational class. RESULTS: Traditional regression yielded an odds ratio (OR) of 1.34 (95% CI: 1.06-1.70) for type 2 diabetes incidence for each additional survey wave in which insomnia was reported. Marginal structural models adjusted for prior covariates (assuming concurrently measured covariates were potential mediators), reduced this OR to 1.20 (95% CI: 0.98-1.46), and when concurrent covariates were also included (viewing them as potential confounders) this dropped further to 1.08 (95% CI: 0.85-1.37). CONCLUSIONS: The association between cumulative experience of insomnia and type 2 diabetes incidence appeared confounded. Evidence for a residual causal effect depended on assumptions as to whether concurrently measured covariates were confounders or mediators.

Original publication

DOI

10.1186/s12888-017-1268-4

Type

Journal article

Journal

BMC Psychiatry

Publication Date

16/03/2017

Volume

17

Keywords

Causal Effects, Confounding, Insomnia, Longitudinal, Marginal Structural Models, Sleep, Type 2 Diabetes