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Student Research Spotlight 
Julia Boyle (PsyD '20)

June 17, 2019

Julie Boyle (PsyD '20) poses with her research laptop in a PCOM library roomJulie Boyle's (PsyD '20) research investigates insomnia and the daytime symptoms and health issues following poor sleep.

Julia T. Boyle (PsyD ’20) is currently studying for her doctorate in clinical psychology at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM). She completed her first practicum training year at PCOM’s Center for Brief Therapy and at the Sleep Disorders Clinic at the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Philadelphia. Currently, she is completing her practicum at Christiana Hospital in the Neuroscience consult and liaison service before moving to Boston for her internship at the VA Boston Healthcare System. She is also a graduate research intern at University of Pennsylvania’s Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program, and her research interests include assessment and treatment of insomnia disorder among individuals with age-related medical and/or neurological disorders including stroke, Parkinson’s disease and dementias.

What did you study?

My research investigates insomnia and the daytime symptoms following poor sleep. Few studies have asked whether perception of the severity, frequency and chronicity of self-reported insomnia changes as people age. Accordingly, my dissertation seeks to identify the relationship between insomnia, sleep-related daytime dysfunction, problem endorsement and aging in a large community sample of individuals aged 18-90.

What prompted you to pursue research?

During my undergraduate education in St. Joseph’s University’s (SJU) research-based psychology program, I began working under the mentorship of Jodi Mindell, PhD, and quickly developed an interest for sleep research, which continued through my Master’s degree at SJU when I specifically studied sleep in pediatric and young adult populations. My intention was to pursue research during my doctoral graduate experience. PCOM’s emphasis on evidence-based clinical practice, the dissertation process and the College’s relationships with neighboring universities – such as the University of Pennsylvania – made this intention a reality. It was at PCOM that I developed an interest in geriatric populations. I am fortunate my mentor at PCOM, Brad Rosenfield, PsyD, (assistant professor and practicum coordinator, clinical psychology) and my mentor at University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), Michael Perlis, PhD, both encouraged the growth of these ideas into what is my current dissertation topic.

What experience do you have conducting research?

Dr. Rosenfield, my dissertation chair, connected me to Dr. Perlis within the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at UPenn, where I have been working as a graduate research intern since summer of 2016. Dr. Rosenfield is a very supportive mentor and understood that I had a strong desire to continue behavioral sleep medicine research. He encouraged me to pursue the opportunity at UPenn and I’m grateful he did. Since I began there, I have aided in data collection, management and analyses for several studies—including data several National Institute of Health grants—for the purposes of presentations and publications. Most recently, two abstracts using my dissertation data have been accepted for poster presentations at the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS) Conference in June 2019. The data for my dissertation was collected at and UPenn continues to recruit participants through this method.

What were your responsibilities in this research project?

Through my position at UPenn, I aided in the recruitment and management of data collected from Along with my principal investigator Dr. Rosenfield and second dissertation committee member Robert DiTomasso, PhD, dean of the PCOM School of Professional and Applied Psychology, I analyzed and interpreted the data from the online survey for sleep continuity disturbances (difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up earlier than intended), sleep-related daytime dysfunction (concentration difficulties, fatigue and excessive daytime sleepiness), medical disorders and psychiatric disorders. This survey also asks whether or not the individual considers their sleep continuity disturbances or sleep-related daytime dysfunction a problem for them.

What is the broader impact of your research?

Insomnia can lead to increased risk for medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, type-2 diabetes and psychological conditions such as major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. I hope that the results of my dissertation may be used to inform clinicians on how to accurately assess and treat older adults for sleep disturbances and sleep-related daytime dysfunction. Specifically, this data may suggest that treatment recommendations should be made on the basis of symptom severity, frequency and chronicity, even if the patient does not report that insomnia or daytime dysfunction are a problem for them.

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