Patient-Defined Goals for Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2022 Oct;167(4):791-798. doi: 10.1177/01945998221075298. Epub 2022 Feb 8.


Objectives: To characterize the treatment goals and values of adult patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Study design: Mixed methods design based on semistructured interviews followed by cross-sectional surveys.

Setting: Academic medical center and integrated managed care consortium.

Methods: Phase 1 involved qualitative analysis of focus groups and interviews to define treatment goal categories. Phase 2 included analysis of cross-sectional surveys on most important treatment goals from patients with OSA presenting to sleep surgery clinic. Positive airway pressure (PAP) use, Epworth Sleepiness Scale score, and apnea-hypopnea index were obtained to determine influences on goal choices.

Results: During focus groups and interviews, treatment goal themes identified included improving sleep quality, reducing daytime sleepiness, snoring sound reduction, and health risk reduction. In phase 2, 536 patients were surveyed, and they reported the primary treatment goals of health risk reduction (35%), sleep quality improvement (28%), daytime sleepiness improvement (21%), and snoring sound reduction (16%). The primary treatment goal was associated with age (P < .0001), excessive daytime sleepiness (Epworth Sleepiness Scale score >10, P < .0001), PAP use status (P < .0001), and OSA severity (apnea-hypopnea index, P < .0001). Severity of OSA was associated with increasing proportion of patients choosing health risk reduction as the main treatment goal (P < .05).

Conclusions: Adult OSA treatment goal choices vary with age, symptoms, PAP history, and OSA severity. Understanding patient-specific goals is the essential first step in the shared decision-making process when choosing surgical or nonsurgical treatments. Ultimately, goal-focused discussions ensure alignment of priorities and definitions of success between the patient and the provider.

Keywords: age; apnea hypopnea index; obstructive sleep apnea; positive airway pressure; shared decision making; sleep surgery; treatment goals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disorders of Excessive Somnolence*
  • Goals
  • Humans
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive* / diagnosis
  • Sleepiness
  • Snoring