The efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia in patients with chronic pain

Sleep Med. 2010 Mar;11(3):302-9. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2009.05.018. Epub 2010 Feb 4.


Study objectives: To assess the efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) in patients with non-malignant chronic pain.

Methods: Twenty-eight subjects with chronic neck and back pain were stratified according to gender, age, and ethnicity, then assigned to one of the two treatment groups: CBT-I or a contact control condition.

Intervention: Eight weeks of CBT-I including sleep restriction, stimulus control, sleep hygiene, and one session of cognitive therapy devoted to catastrophic thoughts about the consequences of insomnia.

Measurements and results: Outcomes included sleep diary assessments of sleep continuity, pre-post measures of insomnia severity (ISI), pain (Multidimensional Pain Inventory), and mood (BDI and POMS). Subjects receiving CBT-I (n=19), as compared to control subjects (n=9), exhibited significant decreases in sleep latency, wake after sleep onset, number of awakenings, and significant increase in sleep efficiency. The diary findings were paralleled by significant changes in the ISI (p=0.05). Significant improvement (p=0.03) was found on the Interference Scale of the Multidimensional Pain Inventory. The groups did not significantly differ on mood measures or measures of pain severity.

Conclusions: CBT-I was successfully applied to patients experiencing chronic pain. Significant improvements were found in sleep as well as in the extent to which pain interfered with daily functioning. The observed effect sizes for the sleep outcomes appear comparable to or better than meta-analytic norms for subjects with Primary Insomnia.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Records
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / complications*
  • Pain / psychology
  • Pain Measurement
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / etiology
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome