Journal Article
Systematic Review
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Virtual consultations for patients with obstructive sleep apnoea: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

BACKGROUND: The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of virtual care strategies for the management of patients with obstructive sleep apnoea/hypopnoea syndrome (OSAHS).

RESEARCH QUESTION: What is the effectiveness of virtual consultations compared to in-person consultations for the management of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy in adult patients with OSAHS?

METHODS: A systematic review and meta-analysis (PROSPERO; CRD42022297532) based on six electronic databases plus manually selected journals was conducted in January 2022. Two researchers independently selected, quality appraised and extracted data. The co-primary outcomes were patient-reported sleepiness, assessed by the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS), and reported cost-effectiveness.

RESULTS: 12 studies (n=1823 adults) were included in the review. Seven studies (n=1089) were included in the meta-analysis which showed no difference in the magnitude of improvement in patient-reported sleepiness scores between virtual and in-person consultations (mean difference -0.39, 95% CI -1.38-0.60; p=0.4), although ESS scores improved in both groups. Virtual care strategies modestly increased CPAP therapy adherence and were found to be less costly than in-person care strategies in the three Spanish trials that reported cost-effectiveness.

CONCLUSION: The findings of this review suggest that virtual care delivered by telephone or video consultations is as effective as in-person consultations for improving subjective sleepiness in patients with OSAHS treated with CPAP. This clinical management strategy may also improve CPAP adherence without increasing the costs, supporting its potential as a follow-up management strategy, where patients prefer this approach.

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