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Papers of the Week

Papers: 26 Aug 2023 - 1 Sep 2023

Pediatric, Psychology, Social Aspects

Human Studies, Neurobiology


2023 Aug 24

J Pain


Executive Functioning and Self-Management Processes Mediate the Relationship between Insomnia and Pain-Related Disability.


Law EF, Tham SW, Howard W, Ward TM, Palermo TM


Insomnia has been identified as a predictor of reduced benefit from cognitive-behavioral treatment (CBT) for adolescent chronic pain; however, it is not well understood how insomnia leads to reduced treatment response. The purpose of this study was to evaluate executive function and self-management processes as two potential mediators of the relationship between insomnia symptoms and pain-related disability outcomes from internet-delivered CBT using a single-arm clinical trial design. Eighty-five adolescents with chronic pain (77% female, ages 12-17 years) and their caregiver received an eight-week internet-delivered CBT intervention. Youth completed validated measures of insomnia symptoms, executive function, self-management processes, and pain-related disability at baseline, mid-treatment, immediate post-treatment, and three-month follow-up. Results from multilevel structural equation modeling indicated that more severe insomnia symptoms were associated with greater problems with executive function which, in turn, lead to lower engagement in self-management processes and less improvement in pain-related disability. These findings identify two mediators by which higher insomnia symptoms may lead to reduced benefit from CBT intervention for chronic pain. Research is needed to understand whether psychological treatments for chronic pain may be optimized by strategies targeting insomnia, executive function, and/or engagement in self-management. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov (NCT04043962). PERSPECTIVE: Our study suggests that executive functioning and self-management processes mediate the relationship between insomnia and treatment outcomes for pediatric chronic pain, highlighting the impact of insomnia on youth learning and implementation of self-management strategies and the critical need for targeted sleep interventions in this population.