OSA syndrome and posttraumatic stress disorder: Clinical outcomes and impact of positive airway pressure therapy

Christopher J. Lettieri, Scott G. Williams, Jacob F. Collen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Background: We sought to determine the impact of OSA syndrome (OSAS) on symptoms and quality of life (QoL) among patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In addition, we assessed adherence and response to positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy in this population. Methods: This was a case-controlled observational cohort study at the Sleep Disorders Center of an academic military medical center. Two hundred consecutive patients with PTSD underwent sleep evaluations. Patients with PTSD with and without OSAS were compared with 50 consecutive age-matched patients with OSAS without PTSD and 50 age-matched normal control subjects. Polysomnographic data, sleep-related symptoms and QoL measures, and objective PAP usage were obtained. Results: Among patients with PTSD, more than one-half (56.6%) received a diagnosis of OSAS. Patients with PTSD and OSAS had lower QoL and more somnolence compared with the other groups. Patients with PTSD demonstrated significantly lower adherence and response to PAP therapy. Resolution of sleepiness occurred in 82% of patients with OSAS alone, compared with 62.5% of PAP-adherent and 21.4% of nonadherent patients with PTSD and OSAS (P < .001). Similarly, posttreatment Functional Outcomes of Sleep Questionnaire ≥ 17.9 was achieved in 72% of patients with OSAS, compared with only 56.3% of patients with PTSD and OSA who were PAP adherent and 26.2% who were nonadherent (P < .03). Conclusions: In patients with PTSD, comorbid OSAS is associated with worsened symptoms, QoL, and adherence and response to PAP. Given the negative impact on outcomes, the possibility of OSAS should be considered carefully in patients with PTSD. Close follow-up is needed to optimize PAP adherence and efficacy in this at-risk population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-490
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • CPAP adherence
  • Continuous positive airway pressure
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Quality of life


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