Behavioral Insomnia Therapy for Fibromyalgia

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Duke University






Behavioral: Behavioral insomnia therapy

Study type


Funder types



R21AR046094 (U.S. NIH Grant/Contract)

Details and patient eligibility


This study tests the effectiveness of a nondrug treatment for the insomnia that often occurs in people with fibromyalgia. The treatment is a type of psychotherapy called cognitive-behavioral therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy combines cognitive therapy, which can modify or eliminate thought patterns contributing to the person's symptoms, and behavioral therapy, which aims to help the person change his or her behavior.

Full description

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a prevalent and debilitating condition that contributes to impaired occupational and social functioning and increased disability among affected individuals. The vast majority of people with FM experience persistent sleep disturbances (e.g., onset difficulty, repeated or extended awakenings, nonrestorative sleep) that worsen other FM-related symptoms (e.g., chronic pain, fatigue) and sustain their general dysfunction. Pharmacologic treatments (e.g., antidepressants, hypnotics) may reduce symptoms for some people with FM, but many FM patients display little enduring improvement in their sleep and other FM-related symptoms in response to such agents. Our clinical observations and initial pilot work suggest that factors common among other insomnia subtypes such as conditioned bedtime arousal, erratic sleep/wake scheduling, and spending too much time in bed likely perpetuate the sleep problems of these medication-refractory FM patients. Over the past decade, we have developed, refined, and repeatedly tested a cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) that has proven effective for reducing sleep disturbances perpetuated by such underlying cognitive/behavioral mechanisms. The major objectives of this project are to conduct a prospective randomized clinical trial to confirm these preliminary findings and to determine the efficacy of CBT insomnia treatment for interrupting the disturbed nocturnal sleep and daytime pain, fatigue, and distress symptom complex that defines FM. One arm of this study's three-by-four factorial design will compare CBT with both a contact control treatment and standard care. The other arm in the design is a repeated-measures factor consisting of four time points (i.e., baseline, mid-treatment, post-treatment, and 6-month follow-up periods) at which we will assess outcome. We will assess participants at all four time points with objective (wrist actigraphy) and subjective (sleep logs, Insomnia Symptom Questionnaire) measures of sleep improvements, measures of subjective pain, and questionnaires that assess mood (State-Trait Anxiety and Beck Depression Scales) and general quality of life (SF-36). We will conduct multivariate statistical analyses and tests of clinical significance with these various measures. We will also conduct exploratory analyses to determine if polysomnographically-derived sleep measures obtained prior to treatment correlate with initial levels of pain and distress or eventual treatment outcome. Results should provide information about the usefulness of CBT for treating FM-related sleep difficulties. Results should also improve understanding of the FM syndrome in general and provide new information about the potential role of behavioral therapy in the overall management of this disorder. Individuals interested in participating in this study should live within reasonable commuting distance from the Duke University Medical Center (Durham, NC), because this research requires multiple outpatient visits for screening and treatment.


106 patients




21 to 65 years old


No Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  • Insomnia for more than 1 month
  • Fibromyalgia diagnosis
  • Participants must live within easy commuting distance of Duke Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina

Exclusion criteria

  • Terminal illness
  • Major psychiatric disorder
  • Substance abuse
  • Dependence on hypnotic drugs
  • Other sleep disorders (sleep apnea, restless legs, etc.)
  • Other sleep-disturbing medical disorders (painful arthritis, thyroid condition, etc.)

Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Parallel Assignment


Single Blind

Trial contacts and locations



Data sourced from

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