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Papers of the Week

Papers: 12 Mar 2022 - 18 Mar 2022

Human Studies

2022 Mar 10

J Pain

Baseline Sleep Disturbances Modify Outcome Trajectories in Adolescents with Chronic Pain Receiving Internet-delivered Psychological Treatment.


Over 50% of adolescents with chronic pain report comorbid sleep disturbances (e.g., difficulties with falling asleep), which is associated with increased pain-related disability and poorer quality of life. However, limited longitudinal data are available to understand how sleep disturbance may impact response to psychological treatment. Our primary hypothesis was that baseline sleep disturbances would significantly modify how adolescents responded to an internet-delivered psychological intervention for chronic pain in terms of outcome trajectories. The sample included 85 adolescents, 12 to 17 years, with chronic pain recruited from a multidisciplinary pain clinic and headache clinic who received access to an internet-delivered psychological intervention for chronic pain. Baseline sleep assessment included actigraphy monitoring for 7 days and survey measures. Outcomes were assessed at baseline, 8 weeks, and 3 months including core pain-related outcomes, executive functioning, fatigue, positive and negative affect. Results demonstrated that greater baseline insomnia and poorer sleep quality was associated with worse outcome trajectories for pain-related disability, depression, anxiety, fatigue, negative affect, and executive functioning. Findings extend the limited studies that examine how sleep disturbance may modify effectiveness of psychological treatments for adolescent chronic pain and emphasize the importance of treating comorbid sleep disturbance. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov (NCT04043962). Perspective: Our study suggests that sleep deficiency, in particular insomnia and poor sleep quality, may modify the effectiveness of psychological treatments for chronic pain, highlighting the urgent need to screen youth for sleep problems prior to initiating treatment, and to consider implementation of sleep-specific treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia.