Objective: To compare SF-36, pain Visual Analog Scale (VAS), and sleep VAS outcomes of an adjustable airbed with innerspring mattresses in a population of chronic back pain sufferers.
Study design: A-B-A trial, in 3 phases: the patients on their own bed for 1 night, on an adjustable airbed for 28 nights, and on their bed for 14 nights.
Setting: Outpatient pain rehabilitation, physical therapy, and alternative medicine clinics.
Patients: Three centers recruited 30 patients each with severe chronic back pain and without sleep apnea or other sleep disorders.
Main outcome measures: SF-36 health status survey and VAS pain and sleep quality scales.
Results: On VAS scales, 95% showed pain improvement, and 88% reported better sleep. The average improvements were a 32% pain decrease and a 73% increase in sleep quality, significant at P less than.001 (two-tail t test). Eighty percent improved on the SF-36 physical functioning dimension and 88% improved on the bodily pain dimension. The average score on each dimension improved (P less than.001). Eighty-five percent preferred the adjustable airbed.
Discussion and conclusion: SF-36 and VAS outcomes measures showed a highly significant benefit for the airbed design in this short-term comparison. The airbed appears to be a useful sleep aid and an adjunct to medical and physical therapies for chronic back pain sufferers.