Does Chronic Pain Affect a Spouse’s Sleep?

Without restful sleep, health of spouses of osteoarthritis patients may be at risk, reports PAIN®

Philadelphia, August 15, 2013

Research suggests that a patient's chronic pain affects a spouse's emotional well-being and marital satisfaction. In a novel study of behavioral health outcomes published in the journal PAIN®, researchers examined the effects of patients' daily knee osteoarthritis pain on their spouses' nightly sleep. They determined that couples who expressed a high degree of closeness in their marriage experienced a stronger association between pain levels and the spouse's ability to sleep restfully. Findings further illustrated that chronic pain may place the spouse's health at risk and suggest an important therapeutic target for couples.

"Sleep is a critical health behavior, and individuals whose sleep is affected by their partner's pain are at risk for physical and psychiatric problems," says lead investigator Lynn M. Martire, PhD, Department of Human Development & Family Studies, Penn State University, University Park, Pennsylvania. "Spouses whose sleep is compromised may also be less able to respond empathically to patients' symptoms and need for support."

The research team chose to study knee pain because of the difficulty many patients experience in getting comfortable in bed and staying asleep. In addition, the resulting restlessness may disturb the patient's partner. Investigators sought to test two hypotheses:

The team collected data from 145 couples who recorded their levels of pain, sleep quality, and level of feeling rested or refreshed over 22 consecutive nights of sleep. Eligible participants were husbands or wives who had been diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis by a physician, who experienced usual knee pain of moderate or great intensity, were at least 50 years old, and were married or in a long-term relationship in which they shared a residence with their partners.

Data analysis indicated:

"Compromised sleep caused by exposure to a loved one's suffering may be one pathway to spousal caregivers' increased risk for health problems, including cardiovascular disease," concludes Dr. Martire. "In developing behavioral couple-oriented interventions for arthritis, it is important to identify the couples in which the spouse is most affected by patient suffering. Our findings suggest that assessing the extent to which partners are closely involved in each other's lives would help to identify spouses who are especially at risk for being affected by patient symptoms and in need of strategies for maintaining their own health and well-being."

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Notes for Editors
"The Impact of Daily Arthritis Pain on Spouse Sleep," by Lynn Martire, PhD; Francis J. Keefe, PhD; Richard Schulz, PhD; Mary Ann Parris Stephens, PhD; Jacqueline a. Mogle, PhD (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pain.2013.05.020). The article appears in PAIN, Volume 154, Issue 9 (September 2013) published by Elsevier.

Full text of the articles is available to credentialed journalists upon request. Contact Terry Materese at +1 215 239 3196 or painmedia@elsevier.com for copies. Journalists wishing to set up interviews with Dr. Martire should contact her directly at lmm51@psu.edu.

About PAIN®
PAIN®, the official journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain® (IASP®), publishes 12 issues per year of original research on the nature, mechanisms, and treatment of pain. This peer-reviewed journal provides a forum for the dissemination of research in the basic and clinical sciences of multidisciplinary interest and is cited in Current Contents and MEDLINE. It continues to be ranked #1 out of the 29 journals in the Anesthesiology category according to the2012 Journal Citation Reports, Thomson Reuters. www.painjournalonline.com

About the International Association for the Study of Pain® (IASP®)

IASP® is the world's largest multidisciplinary organization focused specifically on pain research and treatment. It is the leading professional forum for science, practice, and education in the field of pain, bringing together scientists, clinicians, health-care providers, and policymakers to stimulate and support the study of pain and to translate that knowledge into improved pain relief worldwide. Founded in 1973, IASP has nearly 8,000 members from 133 countries and in 90 chapters. www.iasp-pain.org

About Elsevier

Elsevier is a world-leading provider of information solutions that enhance the performance of science, health, and technology professionals, empowering them to make better decisions, deliver better care, and sometimes make groundbreaking discoveries that advance the boundaries of knowledge and human progress. Elsevier provides web-based, digital solutions — among them ScienceDirect, Scopus, Elsevier Research Intelligence, and ClinicalKey — and publishes nearly 2,200 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and over 25,000 book titles, including a number of iconic reference works.

The company is part of Reed Elsevier Group PLC, a world leading provider of professional information solutions in the Science, Medical, Legal and Risk and Business sectors, which is jointly owned by Reed Elsevier PLC and Reed Elsevier NV. The ticker symbols are REN (Euronext Amsterdam), REL (London Stock Exchange), RUK and ENL (New York Stock Exchange).

Media contact
Terry Materese
Elsevier
+1 215 239 3196 / +1 215 327 9934
painmedia@elsevier.com