Apnea Treatment Usage Improves with Phone Support

Many people use their sleep apnea treatment religiously – some individuals even use it for mid-day naps. But some people really struggle. They might have the desire to stick to treatment, but their ability is reduced. How might we help non-users or inconsistent users? Sticking to a treatment, be it hypertension treatment or a workout regimen, is often enhanced with support. Either social support or support from a doctor can facilitate treatment use. Therefore, might phone support help users stick to their sleep apnea treatment?

This question was tested using individuals who had just been described to CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), the gold standard treatment for sleep apnea. CPAP works very well when it is used often, and therefore it is important that individuals treated with CPAP use it as often as possible. A group of researchers from Switzerland used a combination of telemetry (remote collection of data) and phone support in an attempt to enhance CPAP usage. The patients who were using their CPAP less than optimally were contacted through the phone, and patients were able to speak with a representative about their issues with CPAP. Mostly, the representative offered encouragement and support. These support calls lasted for 1 month after the patient had been prescribed CPAP.

The CPAP usage of the 113 individuals who underwent phone support was compared with a control group containing 110 individuals who did not undergo phone support. Results showed those who had support used the device for about 5.3 hours per night (averaged over the whole group), while those without support only used the CPAP for 4.6 hours per night, indicating the phone support actually worked.

These results have broad implications, as simple usage monitoring and phone support helped these individuals stick to their treatment. As mentioned, the longer someone wears CPAP during sleep, the better. Better physical and psychological outcomes emerge when CPAP is worn continually. What’s more, early usage (e.g., within the first month or so of treatment) predicts later usage, meaning those who use their CPAP from the start are more likely to keep wearing it. Therefore, enhancing the first month of treatment is particularly important for future health and wellness. If you are having a hard time sticking to your treatment, contact your physician about similar support options that may be available.


Source: Frasnelli, M., Baty, F., Niedermann, J., Brutsche, M. H., & Schoch, O. D. (2015). Effect of telemetric monitoring in the first 30 days of continuous positive airway pressure adaptation for obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome–a controlled pilot study. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, 1357633X15598053.

Janna Mantua


Janna is a PhD Student / Graduate Research Assistant at University of Massachusetts Amherst with a background in clinical sleep research and psychology. Janna Mantua is a PhD student in the Behavioral Neuroscience department at the University of Massachusetts. Her research focuses on sleep and aging, with specific projects on cognitive health, inflammation, memory formation, and neuroimaging. Prior to her PhD work, Janna was involved in research on sleep apnea and cognitive decline at the NYU Sleep Disorders Center.

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