CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is often considered the gold standard of sleep apnea treatment, and it’s hard to dispute that it does offer numerous benefits. When properly used, CPAP can provide essentially 100% relief from sleep apnea. However, the big problem is compliance. Perhaps half of the people prescribed CPAP fail to maintain the treatment long-term. This means that half of the people prescribed CPAP essentially still have untreated sleep apnea, and all the health risks that entail. 

Now new research suggests that one strategy may provide significant results in improving long-term CPAP compliance. In this study, educational videos improved long-term CPAP usage by 46%

Improving CPAP compliance is an important strategy for helping people get the sleep apnea treatment they need, however, CPAP is still not right for everyone. At the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center in Omaha, our sleep dentists are dedicated to matching everyone with the best sleep apnea treatments for them. Please contact us today to learn how we can help you. 

young adult man holding his cpap mask in frustratiob

Previous Studies Have Shown Little Benefit

Many people have worked on the problem of CPAP compliance. As a strategy for improving compliance, educational videos seem like a no-brainer. They’re not very expensive, either in terms of money or time cost. They are also a highly repeatable intervention, which makes them a favorite of compliance requirement-wary HR directors everywhere. It’s also easier to design videos that communicate well with people that have a low health literacy level. Omaha sleep doctors often have trouble communicating in simple terms, but video makers find it easier. With the high potential for success, it shouldn’t be a surprise that this isn’t the first study to look at the impact of educational videos on CPAP compliance. 

However, these studies didn’t always show the benefits of educational videos. For example, a 2017 study showed that those shown educational videos used their CPAP for less time after 30 days after their visit than those who got the usual care from their sleep doctors. However, the difference wasn’t statistically significant, so it seemed unlikely that the videos actually made things worse. 

Long-Term Follow-Up Shows Higher CPAP Compliance

So what’s different in the most recent study of educational videos and CPAP compliance? The follow-up. The big challenge with CPAP compliance is long-term compliance. CPAP usage tends to drop off over time, with significantly fewer people using their CPAP machines after a year or more. Researchers wanted to test whether educational videos could make their mark there, so they set up a study with patient recalls at two months and a year after their initial session. 

At the two-month recall, researchers saw the same effect as the 2017 study: people who saw the videos used their CPAP for less time than people who got usual care: 3.45 hours per night for the video group vs. 3.75 hours per night for the usual care group. This difference was not statistically significant. 

However, at the 12-month recall, the difference favored the videos group. At this recall, the usual care group used their CPAP machines for an average of 2.5 hours per night, but the video group used their CPAP for an average of 3.66 hours per night, which was a statistically significant difference. 

The improvement was particularly significant for people who had a low educational background. These patients tended to use their CPAP for an average of 2.47 hours more per night after watching an educational video than they did after receiving the usual care. 

Other Successful Strategies for Improving CPAP Compliance

Of course, there are other strategies that can help improve CPAP compliance. One of the most important is working with your Omaha sleep doctor to make sure your CPAP mask fits comfortably, you have a good pressure setting, and you use comfort accessories as necessary to make the device more usable for you. 

Support interventions can also help. Receiving regular reminders to use your CPAP can increase your usage. You might also use CPAP more often if your provider asks you to actively upload data or provide feedback about your treatment. 

Behavioral interventions seem to have the highest impact on improving CPAP usage. These techniques utilize cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and related techniques to help people develop habits and behaviors that make them more likely to utilize their CPAP machines. This approach tends to involve the most direct contact between the patients and healthcare staff, making them also likely the most expensive strategies. 

Get the Right Sleep Apnea Treatment in Omaha

However, even with all the interventions possible, it still remains true that CPAP is simply not the right sleep apnea treatment for everyone. At the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center in Omaha, sleep doctors and sleep dentists work together closely to help each patient find the sleep apnea treatment that will really work for them. This might mean providing the right support for CPAP or finding a better CPAP alternative like oral appliance therapy

If you are looking for sleep apnea treatment options in Omaha, let us help. Please call (402) 493-4175 or use our online form to request an appointment at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center, in the North Park area of Omaha.