OCT 21, 2021 3:35 PM PDT

Phone-based Talk Therapy Eases Arthritis-related Insomnia

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Talk therapy practice known as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) conducted over the phone helps older adults with arthritis-related insomnia get better sleep. The study was published in Geriatrics Healthcare Professionals by researchers in Washington, US, and Quebec, Canada. 

Arthritis-related insomnia is the most common form of comorbid insomnia among older people in the US. In the US, around half of people aged 65 and over have been diagnosed with arthritis. Meanwhile, sleep disturbances affect around 10.2 million adults in the US with arthritis. Insomnia, or difficulty falling or staying asleep, leads to fatigue, poor concentration, and daytime sleepiness. 

CBT is thought to be one of the most effective treatments for insomnia. It works by helping patients identify and improve unhelpful sleep habits. However, while effective, it requires weekly visits to a therapist's office over several months, which may be impractical for elderly patients. 

The researchers thus chose to investigate whether CBT conducted over the phone could ease insomnia symptoms among elderly patients with arthritis. To do so, they enrolled 325 adults aged 60 and above with moderate to severe insomnia and arthritis pain into their study. 

Participants were split into two groups and given either six CBT telephone sessions each week for eight weeks or information about sleep and arthritis, but no CBT sleep coaching. Both groups kept sleep diaries. 

The researchers also collected data on how the patients rated their general health and quality of life according to standardized questionnaires. They ranked their insomnia status as well as arthritis pain, stiffness, and ability to function. 

At the end of the study, the researchers found that those in the CBT group improved sleeplessness and pain compared to those in the non-CBT group. The researchers thus concluded that healthcare practitioners should consider telephone CBT treatment of insomnia for older adults with arthritis. 

The researchers estimated that the total cost per person for CBT treatment was $200 per person. They say, however, that further research is needed to understand whether the treatment is cost-effective. 

 

Sources: EurekAlertGeriatrics Healthcare ProfessionalsArthritis Care Res (Hoboken)

About the Author
  • Annie Lennon is a writer whose work also appears in Medical News Today, Psych Central, Psychology Today, and other outlets. When she's not writing, she is COO of Xeurix, an HR startup that assesses jobfit from gamified workplace simulations.
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