Poor adherence to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment by adults with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common issue. Strategies delivered by means of information and communication technologies (ie, eHealth) can address treatment adherence through patient education, real-time monitoring of apnea symptoms and CPAP adherence in daily life, self-management, and early identification and subsequent intervention when device or treatment problems arise. However, the effectiveness of available eHealth technologies in improving CPAP adherence has not yet been systematically studied.
This meta-analytic review was designed to investigate the effectiveness of a broad range of eHealth interventions in improving CPAP treatment adherence.
We conducted a systematic literature search of the databases of Cochrane Library, PsycINFO, PubMed, and Embase to identify relevant randomized controlled trials in adult OSA populations. The risk of bias in included studies was examined using seven items of the Cochrane Collaboration risk-of-bias tool. The meta-analysis was conducted with comprehensive meta-analysis software that computed differences in mean postintervention adherence (MD), which was defined as the average number of nightly hours of CPAP use.
The meta-analysis ultimately included 18 studies (N=5429 adults with OSA) comprising 22 comparisons between experimental and control conditions. Postintervention data were assessed at 1 to 6 months after baseline, depending on the length of the experimental intervention. eHealth interventions increased the average nightly use of CPAP in hours as compared with care as usual (MD=0.54, 95% CI 0.29-0.79). Subgroup analyses did not reveal significant differences in effects between studies that used eHealth as an add-on or as a replacement to care as usual (P=.95), between studies that assessed stand-alone eHealth and blended strategies combining eHealth with face-to-face care (P=.23), or between studies of fully automated interventions and guided eHealth interventions (P=.83). Evidence for the long-term follow-up effectiveness of eHealth adherence interventions remains undecided owing to a scarcity of available studies and their mixed results.
eHealth interventions for adults with OSA can improve adherence to CPAP in the initial months after the start of treatment, increasing the mean nightly duration of use by about half an hour. Uncertainty still exists regarding the timing, duration, intensity, and specific types of eHealth interventions that could be most effectively implemented by health care providers.

©Jiska Joëlle Aardoom, Lisa Loheide-Niesmann, Hans C Ossebaard, Heleen Riper. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org), 18.02.2020.