Mastering Treatment for Sleep Apnoea: The Grounded Theory of Bargaining and Balancing Life With Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), in the Context of Decisional Conflict and Change Theories

Kim Ward, Merryn Gott, Karen Hoare


Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment for sleep apnoea can be challenging for patients to master. Given limited evidence on this topic, we used constructionist grounded theory methodology to explore experiences of living with CPAP from participants' perspectives. Adults (n=16) were recruited through a main-center respiratory service in New Zealand and participated in semi-structured interviews. Data were analyzed until theoretical saturation was achieved.

In this article, we present the newly constructed grounded theory of bargaining and balancing life with CPAP, which explains how participants made a series of personal decisions about whether to use and how to master CPAP. To situate, support and provide explanatory power the new theory is discussed in the context of change and decision theories to illustrate the varying phases of readiness experienced by persons preparing to engage with CPAP and the decision-making process required for effective management of CPAP at home.

This study provides valuable CPAP-user centered information for the development of interventions to optimize CPAP use. Acknowledging individuals' abilities to make reasoned healthcare decisions and providing clinical environments that support the active process of bargaining and balancing may increase uptake of CPAP, and potentially other long-term therapies.


chronic illness; continuous positive airway pressure; grounded theory methodology; patient perspectives; sleep apnoea; storyline

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Copyright (c) 2019 Kim Ward

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