Use of a mobile app may help sleep apnea patients adhere to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, a small study suggests.

The app – SleepMapper (SM) – has interactive algorithms that are modeled on the same theories of behavior change that have improved adherence to CPAP when delivered in person or through telephone-linked communication, wrote Jordanna M. Hostler of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., and her coinvestigators ( J Sleep Res. 2017;26:139-46 ).

“Despite our small sample size, patients in the SM group were more than three times as likely to meet Medicare criteria for [CPAP] adherence (greater than 4 hours per night for 70% of nights), a trend that just missed statistical significance (P = .06),” the researchers noted.

“The magnitude of the increase [in CPAP use] indicates likely clinical benefit,” they added.

SleepMapper allows patients to self-monitor the outcomes of positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy by providing information on their adherence, Apnea-Hypopnea Index, and mask leak. The app, which can be downloaded on a smartphone or personal computer, also includes training modules on how to use PAP. The system, owned by Phillips Respironics, will sync with Philips Respironics’ Encore Anywhere software program.

The study comprised 61 patients who had been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) via overnight, in-lab polysomnography. The patients were initiating PAP for the first time at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s Sleep Disorders Center in Bethesda, Md., as participants in the center’s program. Such a program included group sessions with instruction on sleep hygiene and training in the use of PAP, an initial one-on-one meeting with a physician, and a follow-up appointment with a physician 4 weeks after initiating the therapy.

Thirty of the program participants included in the study used SleepMapper in addition to the center’s standard education and follow-up. The researchers analyzed 11 weeks of data for all 61 study participants.

Patients in the SleepMapper group used their PAP machines for a greater percentage of days and achieved more than 4 hours of use on more days of participation in the program, compared with patients who did not use the app. The patients using the app also showed a trend toward using PAP for more hours per night overall. Specifically, nine of the patients in the app group used their PAP machines greater than 4 hours per night for 70% of nights, versus three of the patients in the control group (P = .06). SleepMapper usage remained significantly associated with percentage of nights including greater than 4 hours of PAP use, in a multivariate linear regression analysis.

The researchers observed many similarities between patients using the app and patients in the control group, including Apnea-Hypopnea Index scores, central apnea index scores, and percentages of time spent in periodic breathing.

Some additional advantages to use of SleepMapper over simply participating in the center’s educational program are that the app provides ongoing coaching and immediate access to Apnea-Hypopnea Index and PAP use data, according to the researchers. They touted the app’s educational videos about OSA and PAP therapy and “structured motivational enhancement techniques such as feedback and goal setting, which have shown benefit when delivered by health care professionals in other studies.”

The researchers called for an additional study of the app’s usefulness in a larger group of patients.

The authors did not receive any funding or support for this study.


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