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The manufacturer of a water-filled pillow claims:

In a published study from The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, The Water Pillow by Mediflow was clinically shown to improve quality of sleep and reduce neck pain.

But https://www.sleeplikethedead.com/water-pillow-mediflow.html presents the counterarguments, also found on Amazon. Please see the website for the reproachful details.

THE BAD: Heavy when filled • durability / longevity questionable • determining fill quantity to suit one's preference can take time & experimentation • water leakage and noise possible but not common.

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    It sounds more like you're asking for health advice, rather than whether or not a notable claim is true. You might have better luck on Medical Sciences (after reading the Help Center there of course). – TheWanderer Dec 24 '18 at 2:24
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    Oh, I see you actually tried there. Crossposting is generally discouraged on SE, especially when it falls under "primarily opinion-based." – TheWanderer Dec 24 '18 at 2:25
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    I think I found the paper. Who funded it is a red flag. archives-pmr.org/article/S0003-9993(97)90263-X/pdf – Laurel Dec 24 '18 at 7:29
  • @Oddthinking Thanks for your edit. I thought to keep the counterargument, and to narrow the question to back sleepers. Please revert if you prefer the question to be more catholic? – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Dec 25 '18 at 22:33
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    @Greek-Area51Proposal: The reason I removed these "counter arguments" is that they are not counter arguments to the claim. If the question was "Should I buy one?", these would be counter arguments (and the question would be closed as off-topic here). But the question is "Do they improve quality of sleep?" so the weight, durability, customisation time and water leakage are all irrelevant. – Oddthinking Dec 25 '18 at 23:08
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+25

Lavin et al is the study mentioned. The results of the study support the claim that this water pillow improves neck pain. Another scientific article reviews this first study in its literature review and presents the following criticism:

... In [Lavin et al] there is no mention of a “washout period” between pillow administrations (to bring the subjects back to their base-line levels); without this, it is unclear whether there were any carryover effects between different pillows. Furthermore, the analysis appears to have utilized the mean of each post-treatment period, rather than pre-post treatment period changes, so it is not clear whether the cross-over data may not largely be the post-treatment data of the previous pillow.

To summarize this in plain English, the data gathering methods of the first study are poor. If the subjects sleep on a great pillow, and then on a mediocre pillow, the experiment may find that the mediocre pillow improves neck pain, when the improvement was actually caused by the great pillow.

The study was funded by Mediflow. Although scientic research is supposed to be unbiased, there is a significant bias towards finding positive results for people who gave the study funding.

This review article examined 127 scientific articles about neck pillows and their effects on neck pain. The Mediflow water pillow is one type of neck pillow. The review did not find evidence suggesting that neck pillows are helpful for neck pain. This conclusion is too general to specifically discredit the Mediflow pillow, but it doesn't look great either.

The evidence presented seems somewhat inconclusive.

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