Cara Palmer

Project Leader Cara Palmer, Ph.D.
MSU Department of Psychology
[email protected] 

Insufficient sleep is one of the most common yet modifiable public health problems facing adolescents, but risk and protective factors that contribute to sleep health in underserved rural youth populations have yet to be explored. Understanding sleep health in Montana adolescents is especially critical given the negative downstream mental health outcomes associated with sleep disturbances, as well as the high rates of depression and suicide risk within the state.

This project aims to systematically assess and identify modifiable sleep health behaviors relevant for youth in rural Montana, and uncover potential mechanisms for intervention to ultimately reduce mental health disparities. With a community-based participatory approach, this project uses a rigorous multi-level (community, family, individual), multi-informant (parent, adolescent), mixed-methods design to investigate sleep health among a cohort of 10- to 17-year-old adolescents in rural Montana. Dr. Palmer previously established her community partnership in Dillon, Montana, as the recipient of a CAIRHE Project Development Mini-Grant in 2020.

Knowledge gained from this project will 1) inform a socioecological theoretical framework for rural sleep health in youth; 2) result in culturally adapted measures to assess behaviors and cognitions related to sleep; 3) identify key community-, family-, and individual-level risk and protective factors influencing rural youth sleep health; and 4) determine the specific associations between sleep and mental health outcomes to ultimately uncover possible mechanisms for future intervention.

The long-term goal of this pilot project is to provide valuable pilot data for a larger external grant submission focused on developing a community-based sleep intervention.