Randomized Controlled Trial of a Novel Communication Device Assessed During Noninvasive Ventilation Therapy

Chest. 2021 Apr;159(4):1531-1539. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2020.09.250. Epub 2020 Oct 1.


Background: Noninvasive ventilation (NIV), a form of positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy, is the standard of care for various forms of acute respiratory failure (ARF). Communication impairment is a side effect of NIV, impedes patient care, contributes to distress and intolerance, and potentially increases intubation rates. This study aimed to evaluate communication impairment during CPAP therapy and demonstrate communication device improvement with a standardized protocol.

Research question: How does an oronasal mask affect communication intelligibility? How does use of an NIV communication device change this communication intelligibility?

Study design and methods: A single-center randomized controlled trial (36 outpatients with OSA on CPAP therapy) assessed exposure to CPAP 10 cm H2O and PAP communication devices (SPEAX, Ataia Medical). Communication impairment was evaluated by reading selected words and sentences for partners to record and were tabulated as %words correct. Each outpatient-partner pair performed three assessments: (1) baseline (conversing normally), (2) mask baseline (conversing with PAP), and (3) randomized to functioning device (conversing with PAP and device) or sham device. After each stage, both outpatients and partners completed Likert surveys regarding perceived intelligibility and comfort.

Results: While conversing with PAP, word and sentence intelligibility decreased relatively by 52% (87% vs 41%) and relatively by 57% (94% vs 40%), respectively, compared with normal conversation. Word and sentence intelligibility in the intervention arm increased relatively by 75% (35% vs 61%; P < .001) and by 126% (33% vs 76%; P < .001) higher than the control arm, respectively. The device improved outpatient-perceived PAP comfort relatively by 233% (15% vs 50%, P = .042) and partner-perceived comfort by relatively 245% (20% vs 69%, P = .0074).

Interpretation: Use of this PAP communication device significantly improves both intelligibility and comfort. This is one of the first studies quantifying communication impairment during PAP delivery.

Trial registry: ClinicalTrials.gov; No.: NCT03795753; URL: www.clinicaltrials.gov.

Keywords: adaptive and alternative communication (AAC); communication impairment; noninvasive ventilation (NIV); positive airway pressure (PAP).

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Communication Aids for Disabled*
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure*
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laryngeal Masks*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / therapy*
  • Speech Intelligibility*

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03795753