A report from The Huffington Post details the results of a Columbia University study that highlights the importance of sleep apnea education.

Researchers are finding that a major obstacle to treating sleep apnea actually lies in the mind — and not the bed — of the patient. In a new study presented in June at the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine’s (AADSM) 25th Anniversary Meeting, researchers discovered that a key to helping patients adhere to their sleep apnea treatment plan could lie in convincing the patient of the real and long-term effects of the disease if left untreated.

The study from Columbia University asked 80 people if they adhere to their oral appliance therapy. Fifty-eight patients responded that they are adherent to treatment, and 22 responded that they no longer use their oral appliance. Of these 22 respondents, 10 were not using any treatment at all. Respondents in both groups were also asked to rank on a scale of 0-10 their level of knowledge about the consequences of untreated obstructive sleep apnea and their level of concern about these consequences.

While there was no large difference between the two groups’ knowledge about obstructive sleep apnea, there was a major difference in the reported concern about the consequences of untreated sleep apnea. The respondents in the group that were not using oral appliance therapy reported a lower level of concern than those in the adherent group. The lack of concern was even greater in the 10 respondents who were not using any treatment at all.

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