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Introduction: Patient education has been shown to improve continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) compliance in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This is facilitated by improving patient awareness of both the goals of treatment, proper use of the device and consequences of inadequate treatment. The most obvious outcome of successful therapy is an improvement in excessive daytime sleepiness. However, it is hypothesized that the long-term benefits of disease prevention and lessening the severity of conditions known to be associated with untreated OSA are less well recognized by patients. The purpose of this study was to document the degree of patient awareness of conditions associated with OSA. It is anticipated that a lack of knowledge exists in some patient subgroups; that if educated more intensely about these associations might be more diligent in participating in the treatment of their OSA.
Methods: This study was a cross-sectional survey of patients who had been prescribed positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy for OSA. This survey assessed patient knowledge of co-morbid medical conditions associated with untreated OSA.
Results: The vast majority of participants failed to recognize all of the most common co-morbid conditions. Significant differences in awareness were noted between different age groups and genders.
Conclusions: Patient education is important in achieving CPAP compliance. Patient education, as demonstrated by a relative lack of knowledge of associated co-morbidities, appears to be inadequate. Greater efforts at patient education during each and every patient encounter in the sleep disorders clinic are recommended.