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Concordance of sleep and pain outcomes of diverse interventions: an umbrella review

Anthony G Doufas, Orestis A Panagiotou, John P A Ioannidis
PloS One 2012, 7 (7): e40891
22815856

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVE: Pain influences sleep and vice versa. We performed an umbrella review of meta-analyses on treatments for diverse conditions in order to examine whether diverse medical treatments for different conditions have similar or divergent effects on pain and sleep.

METHODS: We searched published systematic reviews with meta-analyses in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews until October 20, 2011. We identified randomized trials (or meta-analyses thereof, when >1 trial was available) where both pain and sleep outcomes were examined. Pain outcomes were categorized as headache, musculoskeletal, abdominal, pelvic, generic or other pain. Sleep outcomes included insomnia, sleep disruption, and sleep disturbance. We estimated odds ratios for all outcomes and evaluated the concordance in the direction of effects between sleep and various types of pain and the correlation of treatment effects between sleep and pain outcomes.

RESULTS: 151 comparisons with 385 different trials met our eligibility criteria. 96 comparisons had concordant direction of effects between each pain outcome and sleep, while in 55 the effect estimates were in opposite directions (P<0.0001). In the 20 comparisons with largest amount of evidence, the experimental drug always had worse sleep outcomes and tended to have worse pain outcomes in 17/20 cases. For headache and musculoskeletal pain, 69 comparisons showed concordant direction of effects with sleep outcomes and 36 showed discordant direction (P<0.0001). For the other 4 pain types there were overall 27 vs. 19 pairs with concordant vs. discordant direction of effects (P = 0.095). There was a weak correlation of the treatment effect sizes for sleep vs. headache/musculoskeletal pain (r = 0.17, P = 0.092).

CONCLUSIONS: Medical interventions tend to have effects in the same direction for pain and sleep outcomes, but exceptions occur. Concordance is primarily seen for sleep and headache or musculoskeletal pain where many drugs may both disturb sleep and cause pain.

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