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Veterans' Experiences of Support in Managing Comorbid Sleep Apnea and Type 2 Diabetes.

Song Y, Choi SE, Papazyan A, Macey PM, Alessi CA, Fung CH, Josephson KR, Martin JL. Veterans' Experiences of Support in Managing Comorbid Sleep Apnea and Type 2 Diabetes. Nursing Research. 2023 May 18.

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BACKGROUND: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is highly prevalent in patients with type 2 diabetes, more so in veterans compared to non-veterans. Positive airway pressure is the recommended first-line treatment for OSA. However, adherence to both positive airway pressure and diabetes management regimens can be challenging for older adults. Support from family or friends may improve glucose control or sleep apnea-related symptoms, yet the evidence is limited when both conditions coexist. OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to describe veterans' experiences of support from family and friends with managing comorbid sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes. METHODS: We conducted a postal survey of older veterans with OSA and type 2 diabetes from one health care system. Questions include demographic and health-related information, information about sleep apnea and diabetes treatment and education received as well as related support from family or a friend, perceived benefits of regular positive airway pressure device use on improving sleep health, and perceived benefits of education for family or a friend on sleep apnea and diabetes. Descriptive and bivariate analyses were performed. RESULTS: Of 145 respondents (mean age 72 years), 43% reported receiving help for type 2 diabetes from family or a friend. Almost two thirds of the respondents were currently using a positive airway pressure device, of whom 27% received support with device use from family or friends. About one third of veterans perceived family and friends receiving education on treating sleep apnea and diabetes to be very or extremely helpful. Such perceived benefit was higher among those who were married or identified as non-White. Veterans using a positive airway pressure device had lower hemoglobin A1c levels than nonusers. DISCUSSION: Veterans perceived that additional education for the individuals providing support would be beneficial. Future studies could address interventions to increase sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes knowledge among families and friends of veterans with these comorbid conditions. Additionally, patients' adherence to positive airway pressure may be enhanced by support from family and friends.

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