Adolescents with obstructive sleep apnea adhere poorly to positive airway pressure (PAP), but PAP users show improved attention and school performance

PLoS One. 2011 Mar 17;6(3):e16924. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0016924.


Background: Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is associated with medical and neurobehavioral morbidity across the lifespan. Positive airway pressure (PAP) treatment has demonstrated efficacy in treating OSA and has been shown to improve daytime functioning in adults, but treatment adherence can be problematic. There are nearly no published studies examining functional outcomes such as academic functioning in adolescents treated with PAP. This study was conducted as an initial step towards determining whether PAP treatment improves daytime functioning among adolescents with OSA.

Methods: Self-reported academic grades, self- and parent-reported academic quality of life, and objectively-measured attention were assessed before and after PAP was clinically initiated in a sample of 13 obese adolescents with OSA, as well as 15 untreated obese Controls without OSA. Based on adherence data, the treated group was divided into PAP Users (n = 6) and Non-Adherent participants (n = 7).

Results: Though demographically similar, the three groups significantly differed in how their academic performance and attention scores changed from baseline to follow-up. Non-Adherent participants showed worsening functioning over time, while PAP Users showed stable or improved functioning, similar to controls.

Conclusion: Although many adolescents prescribed PAP for OSA are non-adherent to the treatment, those who adhere to treatment can display improved attention and academic functioning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Child
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Schools*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / therapy*
  • Time Factors