A pilot trial of a telecommunications system in sleep apnea management

Med Care. 2004 Aug;42(8):764-9. doi: 10.1097/01.mlr.0000132353.99209.fe.


Background: Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is an effective therapy for obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS), although many patients have difficulty adhering to this therapy. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of totally automated telephone technology in improving adherence to prescribed CPAP therapy.

Research design: This pilot study was a randomized clinical trial in 30 patients being started on CPAP therapy for OSAS. Patients were randomly assigned to use of a computer telephone system designed to improve CPAP adherence (telephone-linked communications for CPAP [TLC-CPAP]) in addition to usual care (n = 15) or to usual care alone (n = 15) for a period of 2 months. TLC-CPAP is a computer-based system that monitors patients' self-reported behavior and provides education and reinforcement through a structured dialogue.

Measures: A sleep symptoms checklist and the Functional Outcomes of Sleep Questionnaire were administered at study entry and at 2-month follow up. Hours of CPAP use at effective mask pressure were measured by the CPAP device, stored in its memory, and retrieved at the 2-month visit.

Results: At 2 months, patients randomized to TLC-CPAP had fewer reported sleep-related symptoms (9.4 vs. 13.4, P = 0.047) than those receiving usual care. The average nightly CPAP use in the TLC-CPAP group was 4.4 hours compared with 2.9 hours (P = 0.076) in the usual-care group.

Conclusions: This pilot study suggests that patients with OSAS started on CPAP and a concurrently administered automated education and counseling system had better CPAP adherence and better control of OSAS symptoms.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Computer Communication Networks*
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Home Care Services*
  • Humans
  • Massachusetts
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality of Life
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Telecommunications*
  • Therapy, Computer-Assisted
  • Time Factors