Partners Kept Sleep Apnea Patients on Track With Treatment

CPAP compliance was better among sleep apnea patients with stronger relationships

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious condition that can increase the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and other diseases. The most common treatment for sleep apnea is CPAP. But it's not always easy to get patients to use CPAP every night.

CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. It requires the use of a mask that pushes air into a person's airways while they sleep. Yet CPAP is effective only if the individual with sleep apnea wears the mask every time they sleep.

A recent study found that individuals were more likely to wear their CPAP while asleep if they lived with a partner.

The stronger their family relationship was, the more likely they were to wear their CPAP regularly.

"Seek treatment for obstructive sleep apnea."

The study, led by Faith Luyster, PhD, a research assistant professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Pittsburgh, looked at whether a person's relationship might influence his or her use of CPAP.

The researchers studied 253 patients who had obstructive sleep apnea, of whom 39 percent were female.

At the start of the study, the participants were categorized as married and/or living with a partner versus being single, which included never being married, being widowed or being divorced or separated.

All of the participants filled out a questionnaire designed to assess the quality of their family relationships, including measures of communication, acceptance and trust.

Then these results were compared to the participants' compliance in wearing CPAP, measured by the average number of hours each night they used it over three months of follow-up.

The researchers analyzed these results while taking into account differences among the participants in age, gender, weight, daytime sleepiness and apnea-hypopnea index.

The apnea-hypopnea index measures how severe a person's sleep apnea is.

The findings revealed that people who lived with a romantic partner had better adherence to wearing their CPAP over those three months than those who were single.

Further, the better the relationship quality was for participants, the more likely the participants were to wear their CPAP regularly.

The only other factor the researchers found to be associated with CPAP compliance was age — older participants wore their CPAP more regularly than younger participants.

"These findings suggest that patients who are single or who have unsupportive family relationships are at risk for worse CPAP adherence," the authors concluded.

"CPAP adherence interventions may benefit from targeting individuals who are single and/or individuals who have less family support," they wrote.

This study was presented June 2 at SLEEP 2014, the 28th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This is a preliminary study not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The research was funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. No potential conflicts of interest were reported.

Review Date: 
June 6, 2014
Last Updated:
June 9, 2014