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Screening and assessment for obstructive sleep apnea in primary care


Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common sleep-related breathing disorder and contributes to increased morbidity and compromised cardiovascular outcomes. Sleep disorders are common but rarely reported and addressed by primary health providers. An American Academy of Sleep Medicine task force (2015) released quality measures for the care of adult patients with OSA; the first outcome is improved detection and categorization of OSA symptoms and severity to promote assessment and diagnosis of the disorder.

This state of the science integrative review aimed to evaluate the screening and assessment for OSA in primary care settings including the psychometric properties of OSA screening measures. Studies that met inclusion criteria were fourteen non-experimental and three experimental designs. OSA screening measurements (Berlin questionnaire, Epworth sleepiness scale, STOP Bang) with extensive validation studies were examined. Conclusions are that the current practice model of screening and assessment for OSA in primary care is fragmented and ineffective. Primary care providers encounter patients with OSA symptoms but do not routinely screen, assess, or refer to a sleep specialist. More psychometric research is needed for the OSA screening measurements in primary care. The results of these studies can be translated into practice to increase detection of OSA.

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