Sleep Apnea: Can Non-Specialists Provide Sufficient Care?

Findings based on review comparing OSA care by non-sleep specialists vs. sleep specialist physicians
Findings based on review comparing OSA care by non-sleep specialists vs. sleep specialist physicians

HealthDay News — Non-sleep specialists (NSSs) and sleep specialist physicians (SSPs) provide similar quality care with similar patient outcomes for adults with known or suspected obstructed sleep apnea (OSA), according to a review published online Jan. 30 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Ken M. Kunisaki, MD, from the Minneapolis VA Health Care System, and colleagues compared the effectiveness of care by NSSs and SSPs. 

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Based on 4 observational studies (580 participants; mean age, 52 years; 77% male), the researchers found good agreement between NSSs and SSPs on appropriate diagnostic testing and classification of OSA severity (low-strength evidence). Care provided by NSSs and SSPs resulted in similar quality of life, adherence, and symptom scores (low-strength evidence), based on results from five randomized trials and three observational studies (1,515 participants; mean age, 52 years; 68% male). There was insufficient evidence related to differences between care providers in access to care and adverse events.

"Care by NSSs and SSPs resulted in similar outcomes in adults with known or suspected OSA," the authors write. "Studies are needed to determine care model implementation and reproducibility of results in nonacademic settings and among less experienced NSSs."

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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