Unrecognized Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Taylor Kerstetter, and Dr. Jonna Morris, Health and Community Systems, University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, Victoria Building 3500 Victoria Street Pittsburgh PA, 15261

Background: It is estimated that up to 90% of people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are unaware they have it, possibly because of unrecognized symptoms. While objective manifestations of OSA are clear (e.g., episodes of decreased oxygen during sleep), subjective symptoms may be rationalized and ignored. 
Objectives: The purpose of this study was to evaluate participant’s descriptions of their diagnosis process to understand barriers preventing early diagnosis and treatment. 
Methods: A sample of 13 men and 11 women, age range of 26-83 (mean age ± SD = 51.8 ± 14.5 years) shared their OSA diagnosis experiences during a semi-structured telephone interview. After interviews were quantitatively analyzed, experiences were grouped into 3 categories: the patient independently suspected OSA, family or friends made them aware of their symptoms and encouraged testing (encouraged), or symptoms were recognized by another healthcare professional (HCP) who referred the patient for testing (referred). 
Results: Of 24 participants, 19 (79%) reported not suspecting OSA until they were encouraged (8 participants), referred (8 participants), or both (3 participants). One participant reported referral from their HCP; “I go to a pain management doctor for my back and I keep telling her these problems and she said I should have a sleep study done.” Another participant reported encouragement from a spouse; “it was my husband who pretty much told me I had been snoring a lot … he noticed that I stopped breathing when I was sleeping”. These findings demonstrate that many patients do not recognize their own OSA symptoms and require encouragement or referral to seek treatment. 
Discussion: Potential barriers to OSA diagnosis result from not recognizing symptoms or attributing symptoms to another condition. It is important that nurses and HCPs implement thorough education about symptoms of OSA and promote testing upon suspicion of a sleep related disorder.  

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Taylor Kerstetter

Institution: University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing

Type: Poster

Subject: Nursing & Public Health

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 9
Date/Time: Wed 12:00pm-1:00pm
Session Number: 6030