Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Accepting an Assisted Sleep - Addressing Barriers that Influence Engagement with Continuous Positive Air Pressure Therapy through Design.

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posted on 2021-12-07, 08:27 authored by O'Brien, Katie

This paper aims to answer the question ‘What are the initial experiences of people who use Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) therapy, and how can design address barriers that influence engagement within the first week of therapy?’  Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is a respiratory sleep condition that is characterised by a repetitive collapse of the upper airway during sleep, causing a lack of oxygen and build up on carbon dioxide within the body. Left untreated, OSA can lead to serious medical conditions that may significantly reduce one’s quality of life and risk early death. The primary treatment for OSA is Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) therapy. This is a machine that pumps pressurised air through a facial mask to keep the airway open during sleep. Even though CPAP is the most effective treatment for OSA, it is known to be burdensome and adherence is problematic.  This thesis identifies the barriers that influence CPAP engagement through literature reviews, online surveys, cultural probes, and interviews with manufacturers, clinicians and CPAP users. The barriers identified include first impressions, product-related and social stigma, the ability to troubleshoot issues and the level of support, education and feedback present in the initial stages of therapy.  The outputs from this research focus on improving the user experience through design-based interventions. First, packaging solutions that focus on the interaction, the user’s first impressions, display of product information, and ease of assembly of the equipment. Second, a website that addresses education, support, customisation and the ability to troubleshoot issues. Third, customisable aspects that focus on personalisation of the CPAP equipment through 3D knitting processes that develop customised fabric hose covers. Lastly an application that addresses feedback, support and troubleshooting issues. Concepts are assessed against their relevance to the design criteria.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Industrial Design

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Design Innovation

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Design


Rodriguez-Ramirez , Edgar; Robinson, Brian; Fraser, Simon