A research abstract presented at SLEEP 2009, the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, found that active problem-solving strategies are associated with successful use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

"Certain problem solving and coping styles are associated with more successful CPAP use than others," said principal investigator Robert Glidewell, PsyD, CBSM, from the Lynn Institute of the Rockies in Colorado Springs, Colo. "Individuals who use active problem solving strategies, such as seeking advice, information and feedback from people in their social network generate goal-oriented schedules of action with specific tasks and who believe they are in control of their emotions and behaviors while solving problems or challenges are more likely to be successful with PAP than individuals who use other problem solving and coping styles or strategies."

In a press announcement about the findings, the authors stated patients must be informed that the process of adjusting to CPAP is likely to take between 30 and 90 days. The authors also said that CPAP educators should focus on improving specific aspects of problem solving and coping, such as how to engage social and emotional support networks, how to access care providers, and how to react to common CPAP-related problems. In more challenging cases, a clinical psychologist or other clinician trained in behavioral sleep medicine should be involved in treatment.

The study included information from routine pre and post-treatment CPAP follow up of 58 patients in the clinic of a licensed psychologist certified in behavioral sleep medicine. Data were collected from 39 patients after seven days of CPAP treatment and from 19 patients after 30 days. Standardized questionnaires concerning problem solving and coping styles were administered before treatment to analyze the relationships between pretreatment questionnaire scores and adherence. Objective CPAP data use information was also collected.