Cognitive behavior therapy for chronic insomnia occurring within the context of medical and psychiatric disorders

Clin Psychol Rev. 2005 Jul;25(5):559-92. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2005.04.004.


Insomnia is a pervasive problem for many patients suffering from medical and psychiatric conditions. Even when the comorbid disorders are successfully treated, insomnia often fails to remit. In addition to compromising quality of life, untreated insomnia may also aggravate and complicate recovery from the comorbid disease. Cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) has an established efficacy for primary insomnia, but less is known about its efficacy for insomnia occurring in the context of medical and psychiatric conditions. The purpose of this article is to present a rationale for using CBT-I in medical and psychiatric disorders, review the extant outcome literature, highlight considerations for adapting CBT-I procedures in specific populations, and suggest directions for future research. Outcome studies were identified for CBT-I in mixed medical and psychiatric conditions, cancer, chronic pain, HIV, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and alcoholism. Other disorders discussed include: bipolar disorder, eating disorders, generalized anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder. The available data demonstrate moderate to large treatment effects (Cohen's d, range=0.35-2.2) and indicate that CBT-I is a promising treatment for individuals with medical and psychiatric comorbidity. Although the literature reviewed here is limited by a paucity of randomized, controlled studies, the available data suggest that by improving sleep, CBT-I might also indirectly improve medical and psychological endpoints. This review underscores the need for future research to test the efficacy of adaptations of CBT-I to disease specific conditions and symptoms.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / complications*
  • Prognosis
  • Quality of Life
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / etiology*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / psychology
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / therapy*