Patient preferences and experiences of CPAP and oral appliances for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea: a qualitative analysis

Sleep Breath. 2013 May;17(2):659-66. doi: 10.1007/s11325-012-0739-6. Epub 2012 Jul 26.


Objectives: The aim of this study is to better understand patients' perspectives and preferences about treatment with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and oral appliance (OA) devices for obstructive sleep apnea.

Methods: The current study used qualitative analysis of four focus group sessions with current CPAP and OA users. Twenty-two participants with OSA who currently use either CPAP or OA participated in the sessions at the University of British Columbia.

Results: Five topics from the focus group sessions were descriptively analyzed using NVivo software: goals and expectations of treatment, benefits of treatment for bed partners, side effects and inconveniences of CPAP, side effects and inconveniences of OA, and factors impacting treatment choice. In order of most to least frequently mentioned, patients expressed six expectations of treatment: improved health, apnea elimination, improved sleep, reduced fatigue, reduced snoring, and bed-partner benefits. The most to least mentioned factors impacting treatment choice were device effectiveness, transportability, embarrassment, and cost.

Conclusions: This qualitative study showed that many factors impact patients' experience with their treatment device and that their treatment needs are not only physical but also relate to their lifestyle. This preliminary study provides treatment characteristics and attributes necessary to develop a quantitative questionnaire study, to assist in the selection of therapy, weighing the relative importance of patient and OSA treatment characteristics on treatment preference and adherence. Matching therapy to patient preferences may help identify the most appropriate treatment, and this may achieve greater likelihood of adherence.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • British Columbia
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure / psychology*
  • Disorders of Excessive Somnolence / psychology
  • Disorders of Excessive Somnolence / therapy
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occlusal Splints*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology
  • Patient Compliance / psychology
  • Patient Preference*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / psychology*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires