Association between anxiety, depression, and emotional distress and hypoglossal nerve stimulator adherence

Sleep Breath. 2021 Apr 15. doi: 10.1007/s11325-021-02366-4. Online ahead of print.


Purpose: To evaluate relationships between hypoglossal nerve stimulator (HNS) adherence and the presence of anxiety, depression, and emotional distress.

Methods: This is a cross-sectional study of subjects with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), who had HNS implanted and activated at The Ohio State University Medical Center (OSUMC). Patient usage data from the previous 6 months was obtained from 33 patients. Adherence was defined as ≥28 h of use per week. Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) and Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) were administered, and the Patient Health Questionnaire Anxiety and Depression Scale (PHQ-ADS) score was calculated for all subjects.

Results: Sixty-five percent were adherent with average usage of 46.5±11.7 h per week vs 7.7±7.5 h per week in the non-adherent group. The average GAD-7 were 3.90±3.98 in the adherent group vs. 8.27±6.69 in the non-adherent group (p=0.049). PHQ-9 score was 6.15±4.31 vs. 10.09±7.53 (p=0.118), and PHQ-ADS was 10.05±7.49 vs. 19.20±9.80 (p=0.035). There were no statistically significant differences in age, gender, pre-treatment AHI, and post-treatment AHI between the two groups, though there was a trend to higher age in the adherent group.

Conclusions: This study demonstrated higher GAD-7 and PHQ-ADS scores in the non-adherent group compared to those who were adherent to HNS supporting that anxiety and emotional distress may contribute to HNS therapy adherence. To our knowledge, this is the first study evaluating the relationship between anxiety, depression, emotional distress, and HNS adherence. Screening patients with the GAD-7 and PHQ-9 prior to implantation may be helpful when evaluating patient adherence to therapy.

Keywords: Anxiety; Depression; Hypoglossal nerve stimulator; Obstructive sleep apnea; Psychological distress; Upper airway stimulation.