• CPAP treatment;
  • education;
  • habits;
  • motivation;
  • obstructive sleep apnoea


Rationale, aims and objectives  Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has a low long-term adherence. Educational interventions are few and sparsely described regarding content, pedagogical approach and participants' perceptions. The aim was to describe adherence to CPAP treatment, knowledge about OSA/CPAP, as well as OSA patients' perceptions of participating in a group-based programme using problem-based learning (PBL) for CPAP initiation.

Educational programme  The PBL programme incorporated elements from theories and models concerning motivation and habits. Tutorial groups consisting of four to eight patients met at six sessions during 6 months.

Methods  A sequential explanatory mixed method design was used on 25 strategically selected patients. Quantitative data regarding, clinical variables, OSA severity, CPAP use, and knowledge were collected at baseline, after 2 weeks and 6 months. Qualitative data regarding patients' perceptions of participation were collected after 6 months by semi-structured interviews using a phenomenographic approach.

Results  72% of the patients were adherent to CPAP treatment after 2 weeks and 6 months. All patients improved their baseline knowledge about OSA and CPAP after 2 weeks and sustained it after 6 months. Anxiety and fear, as well as difficulties and needs were motivational factors for participation. Patients described the difficulties of behavioural change, an awareness that improvements do not occur immediately, a realization of the importance of both technical and emotional support and the need for a healthier lifestyle.

Conclusion and practice implications  A group-based programme using PBL seems to facilitate adaptive and developmental learning and result in acceptable CPAP adherence levels.