Pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions for non-respiratory sleep disturbance in children with neurodisabilities: a systematic review

Beresford B, McDaid C, Parker A, Scantlebury A, Spiers G, Fairhurst C, Hewitt C, Wright K, Dawson V, Elphick H, Thomas M
Record ID 32018000281
Authors' objectives: To assess the clinical effectiveness and safety of NHS-relevant pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions to manage sleep disturbance in children and young people with NDs, who have non-respiratory sleep disturbance.
Authors' results and conclusions: Results: Thirty-nine studies were included. Sample sizes ranged from 5 to 244 participants. Thirteen RCTs evaluated oral melatonin. Twenty-six studies (12 RCTs and 14 before-and-after studies) evaluated non-pharmacological interventions, including comprehensive parent-directed tailored (n = 9) and non-tailored (n = 8) interventions, non-comprehensive parent-directed interventions (n = 2) and other non-pharmacological interventions (n = 7). All but one study were reported as having a high or unclear risk of bias, and studies were generally poorly reported. There was a statistically significant increase in diary-reported total sleep time (TST), which was the most commonly reported outcome for melatonin compared with placebo [pooled mean difference 29.6 minutes, 95% confidence interval (CI) 6.9 to 52.4 minutes; p = 0.01]; however, statistical heterogeneity was extremely high (97%). For the single melatonin study that was rated as having a low risk of bias, the mean increase in TST was 13.2 minutes and the lower CI included the possibility of reduced sleep time (95% CI –13.3 to 39.7 minutes). There was mixed evidence about the clinical effectiveness of the non-pharmacological interventions. Sixteen studies included interventions that investigated the feasibility, acceptability and/or parent or clinician views of sleep disturbance interventions. The majority of these studies reported the ‘family experience’ of non-pharmacological interventions. Conclusions: There is some evidence of benefit for melatonin compared with placebo, but the degree of benefit is uncertain. There are various types of non-pharmacological interventions for managing sleep disturbance; however, clinical and methodological heterogeneity, few RCTs, a lack of standardised outcome measures and risk of bias means that it is not possible to draw conclusions with regard to their effectiveness. Future work should include the development of a core outcome, further evaluation of the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions and research exploring the prevention of, and methods for identifying, sleep disturbance. Research mapping current practices and exploring families’ understanding of sleep disturbance and their experiences of obtaining help may facilitate service provision development.
Authors' methods: For pharmacological interventions, only randomised controlled trials (RCTs) were included. For non-pharmacological interventions, RCTs, non-randomised controlled studies and before-and-after studies were included. Data were extracted and quality assessed by two researchers. Meta-analysis and narrative synthesis were undertaken. Data on parents’ and children’s experiences of receiving a sleep disturbance intervention were collated into themes and reported narratively.
Project Status: Completed
Year Published: 2018
English language abstract: An English language summary is available
Publication Type: Full HTA
Country: England, United Kingdom
MeSH Terms
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Complementary Therapies
  • Data Accuracy
  • Disabled Children
  • Female
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Melatonin
  • Nervous System Diseases
  • Sleep
  • Sleep Wake Disorders
  • Young Adult
Organisation Name: NIHR Health Technology Assessment programme
Contact Address: NIHR Journals Library, National Institute for Health and Care Research, Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre, Alpha House, University of Southampton Science Park, Southampton SO16 7NS, UK
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Copyright: 2009 Queen's Printer and Controller of HMSO
This is a bibliographic record of a published health technology assessment from a member of INAHTA or other HTA producer. No evaluation of the quality of this assessment has been made for the HTA database.