The patient’s perioperative perspective during the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea: a pilot study

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Sleep and Breathing








CPAP; Obstructive sleep apnea; Patient perspective; Qualitative research; Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty


© 2018, Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature. Purpose: This study aims to determine patients’ pre-operative and post-operative experiences relating to surgical treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), while understanding how patients’ perceptions influence their outcome and satisfaction. Methods: This is a phenomenological qualitative study using a semi-structured interview to evaluate patients who failed continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment of obstructive sleep apnea and underwent airway surgery. Meaningful codes from the interviews were organized into overarching themes of patient experiences. The same surgeon in a tertiary care otolaryngology practice treated all patients. All patients underwent a modified or traditional uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) between 2009 and 2013. Patients were diagnosed with OSA by polysomnogram and had failed CPAP use. Patients were interviewed regarding their experience with OSA, CPAP, and surgery. Thematic saturation was reached after 17 patients. Results: Six themes exemplify patient’s experience of OSA and treatment: (1) OSA impacted patients personally and professionally, (2) CPAP discomfort limited its therapeutic use, (3) patients had personal motivations for undergoing surgery, (4) patient knowledge influenced their perceptions, (5) post-operative challenges exceeded patient expectations, and (6) post-operative outcomes reflected positive effect on patients. Conclusions: Patients’ experiences prior to surgery can largely influence their perceived outcome and satisfaction. Post-operative sleep studies may not capture the full outcome of the patients’ response to surgery. This study suggests that the patient’s subjective reported outcomes should be used in conjunction with objective post-operative sleep studies.

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