Introduction and Objectives Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is common and most patients are relatively young. CPAP is the standard treatment. This questionnaire survey aimed to improve the understanding of the problems which patients on CPAP face during travel and while away from home.
Methods 150 patients on CPAP were randomly selected from our patient database and sent a postal questionnaire. They were asked the number of times they had travelled in the last 2 years and specific questions about the last three trips. These included mode of travel, duration of trip, change in CPAP use, problems with transport and use of CPAP. Patients were asked to specifically document whether they used CPAP during travel. All patients are offered a letter regarding their CPAP therapy to facilitate travel.
Results 101 questionnaires were returned (men=69, mean age=60.5 years). 58 (men=50, mean age 59.4 years) had travelled in the last 2 years on 211 occasions. Data were collected for 139 trips. In 13 trips the CPAP machine was not taken. Reasons included weight, space and check in concerns. 84 trips were within Europe and 7 to North America. 93 trips were by air. On 22 trips, respondents reported the “CPAP letter” was needed for check in. In 7 of the 93 trips by air, problems with checking in the CPAP machine were encountered. In all but 4 trips the CPAP machine was carried as hand luggage. In 33 trips problems with use of CPAP due to the short power cord was reported. CPAP was used less often abroad. CPAP was rarely used during travel. Individual statements highlighted problems with security and check-in.
Conclusions Patients with OSA travel abroad frequently and usually take their CPAP machine with them. In a significant number there are problems with check-in of the CPAP machine and we strongly recommend patients are provided with a “CPAP letter”. Improved dissemination of information is needed to patients and airport staff regarding OSA and CPAP. We recommend patients carry extension cords and power adaptors. The reason for less use of CPAP abroad is not clear and needs further explanation.