Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

William F. Waters


Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) is a serious medical condition that occurs during sleep and consists of episodes of complete (respiratory pauses) or partial obstruction (hypoventilation) of the upper airway. Approximately 80% of persons diagnosed with OSAS are prescribed nasal Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) treatment, which has proven to be the treatment of choice for OSAS. However, noncompliance with CPAP treatment in OSAS patients is a widely recognized problem, and many persons refuse CPAP as a treatment option or fail to use it reliably. Investigations of CPAP use in OSAS patients have generally found that nightly use averages less than five hours. Few interventions have been scientifically evaluated for improving CPAP compliance. The current study evaluated a method of introducing OSAS patients to CPAP prior to the administering CPAP titration in the laboratory. Participants in the treatment groups underwent a 30-minute CPAP habituation trial, with a range of pressures, prior to the polysomnography with CPAP. It was hypothesized that the participants who experienced CPAP habituation would have better sleep quality during CPAP, would be more likely to accept CPAP, and would use CPAP more on a nightly basis than control participants who experienced the usual laboratory procedures for introducing CPAP (CPAP education) to OSAS patients. There were no statistically significant differences for any of the dependent variables between participants who experienced CPAP habituation and participants who experienced CPAP education. Men were found to use CPAP 1.61 hours more on a nightly basis than women (p = .03). This difference is most likely attributable to severity, as men were observed to have an A+HI that was twice the observed A+HI of women participants. Overall, CPAP acceptance and compliance for the complete sample was comparable to what has been reported in the CPAP treatment literature.