Background: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition characterized by repeated episodes of partial or complete obstruction of the upper airway during sleep. An accessible method to facilitate self-management education is through information and communication technologies (ICTs).
Purpose: To assess the frequency of and preferences for ICT use in patients with sleep apnea.
Methods: A multicenter, multinational, observational cross-sectional survey study was conducted between 2018 and 2019 in sleep units in different countries of Latin America, including patients of both genders older than 18 years with a diagnosis of sleep apnea. Participants were asked to complete 20 questions in a self-administered survey about the frequency of use of ICTs and their preferences for receiving disease-related information.
Results: A total of 435 patients participated in the study, with a mean age of 59.1 ± 14.0; 62.5% (n = 272) were males. Most patients had access to cellphones (92.4%, n = 402), smartphone (83.0%, n = 361) and an internet connection (82.3%, n = 358). One-to-one ICTs were regarded as the most frequently used ICT type, as 75.4% (n = 328) of participants reported using them daily (χ2(4) = 848.207, p =.000). With respect to categories of interest, one-to-one ICTs were also the best rated ICT type to receive (59.1%, n = 257; χ2(2) = 137.710, p =.000) and ask physicians (57.0%, n = 248; χ2(2) = 129.145, p =.000) information about OSA. Finally, older adults and those with lower educational levels were found to be less likely to use and be interested in ICTs.
Conclusion: Most patients have access to different ICTs and often use them to seek and receive medical information. The preferred ICTs include those in the one-to-one category (WhatsApp, email) and the one-to-many category (web browsers) for general health and OSA-related information.
Keywords: Information and communication technologies; Internet; Latin America; Obstructive sleep apnea; Self-management education.
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