Psychological health in obstructive sleep apnoea

Obstructive sleep apnoea is diagnosed in 5% of Australians with as many as 8 in 10 unaware of their condition.  In older age, rates rise as high as 62%. OSA contributes to days lost from work, ill health, low mood, and accidents at work and in the car. Yet, the specific mechanisms by which OSA exerts its effects on psychological health are not well understood. Professor Bucks aims is improve the health of Australians by identifying the ways in which OSA impacts on psychological health, so that interventions can be targeted appropriately.

Professor Bucks is conducting collaborative studies across the age range from young through to older adults. For example:

Obstructive sleep apnoea and depression: this NH&MRC funded study is describing depression in OSA: highly co-morbid disorders, which increase risk of the other. The aim is diagnose and treat depression in OSA more effectively;

The Busselton Healthy Ageing Study: this West Australian Government funded study is exploring the prevalence of multimorbidity in baby boomers, and the effects of on psychological and physical function. The BHAS study offers well-powered, epidemiological data to consider the cognitive and mood consequences of multimorbidity in a representative sample of middle-aged Australians. One key physical disorder being explored in the BHAS is OSA. Thus, the BHAS will allow us to ask how OSA affects mood and cognition when combined with or without other health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, impaired hearing and back pain

Development and Sleep at Altitude: this study has received funding from the World University Network and Gerald Kerkut Charitable Trust (UK) to explore life-span physiological and functional adaptation to hypoxia at altitude. Living at altitude mimics the oxygen deprivation patterns associated with OSA. This offers unparalleled opportunities to explore the impact of hypoxia on psychological well-being, across the life-span, without the associated comorbidities common in OSA;

Childhood obesity and its relationship to adult obstructive sleep apnoea:  this NH&MRC funded study is assessing the 23 year olds from The Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study to determine the prevalence of and early life predictors for OSA and its impact on psychological well-being.


  • Dr Catherine Hill, Senior Lecturer in Child Health, Honorary Consultant Physician, University of Southampton
  • Dr Dagmara Dimitriou, Senior Lecturer, University of London
  • Professor John W Holloway, Professor of Allergy and Respiratory Genetics
  • Dr Javier Virues-Ortega, Senior Lecturer, University of Auckland