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Koffel E, Amundson E, Wisdom JP. Exploring the Meaning of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia for Patients with Chronic Pain. Pain medicine (Malden, Mass.). 2020 Jan 1; 21(1):67-75.
OBJECTIVE: Insomnia is one of the most common, persistent, and distressing symptoms associated with chronic pain. Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is the firstline treatment for insomnia, but patient preferences and perspectives about CBT-I within the context of chronic pain are unknown. The current qualitative study sought to understand the experience of CBT-I among patients with chronic pain, including aspects of CBT-I that were found to be difficult (e.g., pain as a specific barrier to adherence/dropout), changes in sleep and pain functioning after CBT-I, and aspects of CBT-I that were appreciated. DESIGN: Qualitative semistructured interviews. METHODS: We conducted individual semistructured interviews with 17 veterans with chronic pain and insomnia who had recently participated in CBT-I, as well as their CBT-I therapists, and used thematic analysis to identify conceptual themes. RESULTS: Results revealed that patients and CBT-I therapists found changing sleep habits during CBT-I challenging due to anxiety and temporary increases in fatigue, but did not identify major pain-related barriers to adhering to CBT-I recommendations; patients experienced better sleep, mood, energy, and socialization after CBT-I despite minimal changes in pain intensity; and patients highly valued CBT-I as a personalized treatment for sleep and strongly recommended it for other patients with chronic pain. CONCLUSIONS: Findings of improved sleep and functional outcomes support efforts to incorporate CBT-I into chronic pain treatment, including educating patients and providers about the strong feasibility of improving sleep and quality of life despite ongoing pain.