• continuous positive airway pressure;
  • grounded theory;
  • obstructive sleep apnoea

Aims and objectives

To generate a descriptive theoretical framework for experiences among obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) patients undergoing continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy.


Insufficient information is available about subjective experiences among OSA patients undergoing CPAP therapy. This study aims to address that lack of insight into patients' feelings.


A qualitative study using the grounded theory method to establish a descriptive theory.


Twenty-two Taiwanese OSA patients undergoing CPAP therapy participated in comprehensive interviews.


The patients, aged 37–68 years, participated in wide-ranging interviews. ‘Living with CPAP’ was the core theme describing the life experiences of OSA patients undergoing CPAP. Health warnings were identified as the antecedent condition, with subcategories including the following: severe snoring, choking and feelings of a terrible death during sleep, day and night sleepiness, easy tiredness, decreased memory, poor sleep, dry mouth, dry throat, headache, high blood pressure, poor blood sugar level control and falling asleep while driving. Analyses indicated seven subcategories of OSA patients with CPAP: (1) seeking medical information, (2) difficulties with CPAP, (3) trial and error for the ‘right’ CPAP, (4) long scheduled waiting times, (5) wondering, (6) high expectations, and (7) getting back good health.


The results will assist healthcare providers with references for OSA health care based on patients' subjective perspectives.

Relevance to clinical practice

After interpreting and analysing results, suggestions include the following: (1) provide medical resource education for outpatients and inpatients to access self-care knowledge regarding OSA; (2) institute professional personnel for providing OSA health education in sleep clinics or sleep centres; (3) develop hospital standards for sleep examination processes to shorten waiting times; (4) establish case management for pursuing OSA patients receiving CPAP; (5) arrange regular forums for patients to share their experiences; and (6) provide community health education to promote awareness of snoring issues.