Parental experience of hypoglossal nerve stimulator implantation in adolescents with Down Syndrome and obstructive sleep apnea

Published:October 31, 2022DOI:


      • HNS offers an alternative to other invasive treatments to parents desperate about the health of their adolescent with DS/OSA.
      • Parents of adolescents with DS/OSA seek out specialist and other parents through referral and social media.
      • Parents share observations about changes in their adolescents sleep patterns, speech, and behavior to assess results of HNS.
      • Nurses play a role in making parents aware of, educate and support their decision for HNS in their adolescent with DS/OSA.



      The purpose of this study is to explore the experience of parents in deciding whether to participate in a clinical trial of the insertion of the Hypoglossal Nerve Stimulator (HNS) to treat their adolescent with Down Syndrome (DS) and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

      Design and methods

      A qualitative descriptive design with interviews was used to gather parental experiences from those who consented to HNS for their adolescent with DS and OSA. Interviews were conducted, audiotaped, and transcribed. Basic content analysis was followed to interpret the data. Using a process of data debriefing/engagement, codes were generated, and field/reflective notes were used to assure trustworthiness of the data.


      Parents, 13 mothers/2 fathers, participated. Three themes were identified: Parents experience desperation about acceptance of standard of care for their adolescent with DS and OSA. This desperation led parents to seek information/insights from social media and they came to rely on those sites to explore options, ultimately leading them to HNS clinical trial. Finally, parents had a desire to share experience with HNS implantation.


      Parents described being desperate at acceptance of standards of care for OSA. They shifted reliance on experts and parents by searching social media pages to explore options for treatment of OSA. Parents wished to share experiences with the HNS implantation.

      Practice implications

      Nurses play a role in preparing for the HNS by instructing/educating parents. Nurses can identify supportive social media sites for parents during the HNS decision and suggest ways to measure outcomes of HNS.


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