Background: Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) improves daytime sleepiness and quality of life in patients with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS). However, few studies have examined the impact of treatment on the quality of life of bed partners of these patients.
Methods: We prospectively studied 55 couples in which one person (the patient) had OSAS diagnosed and was subsequently commenced on CPAP therapy; 45 of these couples shared a bed on a regular basis. Both partner and patient completed postal questionnaires immediately prior to CPAP therapy and again after a median of 8 weeks (interquartile range [IQR], 6 to 12 weeks) of therapy at home. Questionnaires consisted of the Epworth sleepiness scale (ESS), the UK Short Form-36 health survey, and the hospital anxiety and depression scale. No intervention or advice was given to the partner of the patient receiving CPAP therapy.
Results: In addition to the expected significant benefits reported by patients receiving CPAP, bed partners also reported significant improvements in ESS scores (median, 4 [IQR, 1 to 8.5] before CPAP; median, 2 [IQR, 1 to 5] during CPAP), in addition to measures of anxiety, role limitation due to physical problems, role limitation due to emotional problems, social functioning, mental health, and energy/vitality (all p < 0.05 by Wilcoxon-signed rank testing).
Conclusions: These data support the hypothesis that partners of patients with OSAS benefit significantly from the CPAP therapy their bed partners receive.