Study objectives: Insomnia is a debilitating comorbidity of chronic pain. This study evaluated the effect of nonpharmacological sleep treatments on patient-reported sleep quality, pain, and well-being in people with long-term cancer and non-cancer (e.g., back pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia) pain conditions.
Design: We systematically searched Cochrane CENTRAL, MEDLINE, Embase, and PsychINFO for relevant studies. Search period was set to inception of these databases to March 2014. Studies were included if they were: original randomized controlled trials (RCTs); testing a nonpharmacological intervention; that targets sleep; in adults; with painful health conditions; that has a control group; includes a measure of sleep quality; and at least one other health and well-being outcome.
Measurement and findings: Means and standard deviations of sleep quality, pain, fatigue, depression, anxiety, physical and psychological functioning were extracted for the sleep treatment and control groups at baseline, posttreatment and final follow-up. Methodological details concerning the treatment, participants, and study design were abstracted to guide heterogeneity and subgroup analyses. Eleven RCTs involving 1,066 participants (mean age 45-61 years) met the criteria for the meta-analysis. There was no systematic evidence of publication bias. Nonpharmacological sleep treatments in chronic pain patients were associated with a large improvement in sleep quality (standardized mean difference = 0.78, 95% Confidence Interval [0.42, 1.13]; P < 0.001), small reduction in pain (0.18 [0, 0.36] P < 0.05), and moderate improvement in fatigue (0.38 [0.08, 0.69]; P < 0.01) at posttreatment. The effects on sleep quality and fatigue were maintained at follow-up (up to 1 year) when a moderate reduction in depression (0.31, [0.09, 0.53]; P < 0.01) was also observed. Both cancer and non-cancer pain patients benefited from nonpharmacological sleep treatments. Face-to-face treatments achieved better outcomes than those delivered over the phone/internet.
Conclusions: Although the body of evidence was small, nonpharmacological sleep interventions may represent a fruitful avenue for optimizing treatment outcomes in patients with chronic pain.
Registration: PROSPERO registration: CRD42013004131.
Keywords: chronic pain; health; insomnia; meta-analysis; nonpharmacological treatment; sleep; systematic review.
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