Continuous positive airway pressure devices for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnoea-hypopnoea syndrome: a systematic review and economic analysis

Authors: McDaid C, Griffin S, Weatherly H, Durée K, van der Burgt M, van Hout S, Akers J, Davies RJ, Sculpher M, Westwood M

Journal: Health Technology Assessment Volume: 13 Issue: 4

Publication date: January 2009



McDaid C, Griffin S, Weatherly H, Durée K, van der Burgt M, van Hout S, et al.Continuous positive airway pressure devices for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnoea-hypopnoea syndrome: a systematic review and economic analysis. Health Technol Assess 2009;13(4)

Download: Citation (for this publication as a .ris file) (4.1 KB)

Journal issues* can be purchased by completing the form.

The cost of reports varies according to number of pages and postage address. The minimum cost for a copy sent to a UK address is £30.00. We will contact you on receipt of your completed form to advise you of actual cost. If you have any queries, please contact

*We regret that unfortunately we are unable to supply bound print copies of Health Technology Assessment published before issue 12:31. However, PDFs are available to print from the "Downloads" tab of the issue page.


No responses have been published. If you would like to submit a response to this publication, please do so using the form below.

Comments submitted to the NIHR Journals Library are electronic letters to the editor. They enable our readers to debate issues raised in research reports published in the Journals Library. We aim to post within 2 working days all responses that contribute substantially to the topic investigated, as determined by the Editors.

Your name and affiliations will be published with your comment.

Once published, you will not have the right to remove or edit your response. The Editors may add, remove, or edit comments at their absolute discretion.

Post your response



Middle Initial

Occupation / Job title

Affiliation / Employer



Other authors

For example, if you are responding as a team or group. Please ensure you include full names and separate these using commas

Statement of competing interests

We believe that readers should be aware of any competing interests (conflicts of interest).

The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) define competing interests as including: financial relationships with industry (for example through employment, consultancies, stock, ownership, honoraria, and expert testimony), either directly or through immediate family; personal relationships; academic competition; and intellectual passion.

If yes, provide details below:

Enter response title

Enter response message


Security key

Regenerate security key

By submitting your response, you are stating that you agree to the terms & conditions

The full text of this issue is available as a PDF document from the Downloads section on this page.



To determine the clinical effectiveness, safety and cost-effectiveness of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices for the treatment of obstructive apnoea-hypopnoea syndrome (OSAHS), compared with the best supportive care, placebo and dental devices.

Data sources

The main search was of fifteen electronic databases, including MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Cochrane Library, up to November 2006.

Review methods

Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comparing CPAP with best supportive/usual care, placebo, and dental devices in adults with a diagnosis of OSAHS were included. The primary outcomes of interest were subjective daytime sleepiness assessed by the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) and objective sleepiness assessed by the Maintenance of Wakefulness Test (MWT) and the Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT). A new economic model was developed to assess incremental cost per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY). The cost-effectiveness of CPAP was compared with that of the use of dental devices and conservative management. The costs and QALYs were compared over a lifetime time horizon. Effectiveness was based on the RCT evidence on sleepiness symptoms (ESS), which was 'mapped' to utilities using individual patient data from a subset of studies. Utilities were expressed on the basis of generic HRQoL instruments [the EQ-5D (EuroQoL-5 Dimensions) in the base-case analysis]. The base-case analysis focused on a male aged 50. A series of subgroup and scenario analyses were also undertaken.


The searches yielded 6325 citations, from which 48 relevant clinical effectiveness studies were identified, 29 of these providing data on daytime sleepiness. The majority of the included RCTs did not report using an adequate method of allocation concealment or use an intention-to-treat analysis. Only the studies using a sham CPAP comparator were double blinded. There was a statistically significant benefit with CPAP compared with control (placebo and conservative treatment/usual care) on the ESS [mean difference (MD) -2.7 points, 95% CI -3.45 to -1.96]. However, there was statistical heterogeneity, which was reduced when trials were subgrouped by severity of disease. There was also a significant benefit with CPAP compared with usual care on the MWT. There was a non-statistically significant difference between CPAP and dental devices (six trials) in the impact on daytime sleepiness (ESS) among a population with moderate symptom severity at baseline (MD -0.9, 95% CI -2.1 to 0.4). A review of five studies evaluating the cost-effectiveness of CPAP was undertaken. All existing cost-effectiveness studies had limitations; therefore a new economic model was developed, based on which it was found that, on average, CPAP was associated with higher costs and benefits than dental devices or conservative management. The incremental cost per QALY gained of CPAP was below 20,000 pounds in the base-case analysis and most alternative scenarios. There was a high probability of CPAP being more cost-effective than dental devices and conservative management for a cost-effectiveness threshold of 20,000 pounds per QALY gained.


CPAP is an effective and cost-effective treatment for OSAHS compared with conservative/usual care and placebo in populations with moderate to severe daytime sleepiness, and there may be benefits when the disease is mild. Dental devices may be a treatment option in moderate disease but some uncertainty remains. Further research would be potentially valuable, particularly investigation of the effectiveness of CPAP for populations with mild sleepiness and further trials comparing CPAP with dental devices.

Share this page

Email this page
Publication updates

If you would like to receive information on publications and the latest news, click below to sign up.