Associations between prescription opioid use and sleep impairment among veterans with chronic pain

Benjamin J. Morasco, Daniel O'Hearn, Dennis C. Turk, Steven K. Dobscha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Objective: Chronic pain is associated with impairments in sleep; however, the relationship between prescription opioid status and sleep is unclear. The primary aim of this study was to examine differences in self-reported sleep quality between groups of patients who varied based on chronic pain and prescription opioid status. Design: This is a cross-sectional study with retrospective review of patient medical records. Setting: The study was performed in a single VA medical center located in the Pacific Northwest. Subjects: Participants with chronic pain and a current prescription for opioid medications (N=72), chronic pain and no opioid prescription (N=104), or who did not report current chronic pain or opioid prescription (N=91) were included. Methods: All participants completed self-report questionnaires assessing demographic characteristics, sleep parameters, pain-related variables, and psychiatric symptoms. Data on prescription opioid use were extracted from patients' medical records. Results: In unadjusted analyses, patients with chronic pain who were prescribed opioids were more likely to have sleep apnea diagnoses in their medical record and reported more impairment on sleep global score and across four sleep parameter subscales (subjective sleep quality, sleep latency, sleep disturbance, and use of sleeping medications). In linear regression analyses controlling for demographic and clinical covariates, prescription opioid status was associated with sleep latency, and opioid dose was significantly associated with sleep latency and sleep global score. Conclusions: Prescription opioid status and dose were associated with impairment in self-reported sleep. For patients with chronic pain, consideration should be given to use of nonpharmacological interventions to improve sleep.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1902-1910
Number of pages9
JournalPain Medicine (United States)
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014


  • Chronic pain
  • Opioids
  • Pittsburgh sleep quality index
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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