Predictors of positive airway pressure therapy adherence in children: a prospective study

J Clin Sleep Med. 2012 Jun 15;8(3):279-86. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.1914.


Study objectives: Children with obstructive sleep apnea are increasingly being treated with positive airway pressure (PAP), particularly if they have underlying medical conditions. Although PAP is an effective treatment, its use is challenging due to poor adherence. We hypothesized that demographic, psychosocial, and polysomnographic parameters would be related to PAP adherence. We therefore prospectively collected data potentially pertaining to PAP adherence, and correlated it with PAP use.

Methods: Fifty-six patients and their parents completed a series of psychosocial questionnaires prior to PAP initiation. Objective adherence data were obtained after 1 and 3 months of PAP use.

Results: The population was primarily obese; 23% had neurodevelopmental disabilities. PAP adherence varied widely, with PAP being worn 22 ± 8 nights in month-1, but mean use was only 3 ± 3 h/night. The greatest predictor of use was maternal education (p = 0.002 for nights used; p = 0.033 for mean h used/night). Adherence was lower in African American children vs other races (p = 0.021). In the typically developing subgroup, adherence correlated inversely with age. Adherence did not correlate with severity of apnea, pressure levels, or psychosocial parameters other than a correlation between family social support and nights of PAP use in month-3.

Conclusions: PAP adherence in children and adolescents is related primarily to family and demographic factors rather than severity of apnea or measures of psychosocial functioning. Further research is needed to determine the relative contributions of maternal education, socioeconomic status and cultural beliefs to PAP adherence in children, in order to develop better adherence programs.

Keywords: CPAP; maternal education; obstructive sleep apnea.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Continental Population Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure / psychology*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Polysomnography
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychology
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / psychology
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / therapy*