Factors associated with referrals for obstructive sleep apnea evaluation among community physicians

Natasha J. Williams, João V. Nunes, Ferdinand Zizi, Kola Okuyemi, Collins O. Airhihenbuwa, Gbenga Ogedegbe, Girardin Jean-Louis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Study Objectives: This study assessed knowledge and attitudes toward obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) among community physicians and explored factors that are associated with referrals for OSA evaluation. Methods: Medical students and residents collected data from a convenience sample of 105 physicians practicing at communitybased clinics in a large metropolitan area. Average age was 48 ± 14 years; 68% were male, 70% black, 24% white, and 6% identified as "other." Physicians completed the Obstructive Sleep Apnea Knowledge and Attitudes questionnaire. Results: The average year in physician practice was 18 ± 19 years. Of the sample, 90% reported providing care to black patients. The overall OSA referral rate made by physicians was 75%. OSA knowledge and attitudes scores ranged from 5 to 18 (mean = 14 ± 2) and from 7 to 20 (mean = 13 ± 3), respectively. OSA knowledge was associated with white race/ethnicity (rp = 0.26, p < 0.05), fewer years in practice (rp = -0.38, p < 0.01), patients inquiring about OSA (rp = 0.31, p < 0.01), and number of OSA referrals made for OSA evaluation (rp = 0.30, p < 0.01). Positive attitude toward OSA was associated with patients inquiring about OSA (rp = 0.20, p < 0.05). Adjusting for OSA knowledge and attitudes showed that physicians whose patients inquired about OSA were nearly 10 times as likely to make a referral for OSA evaluation (OR = 9.38, 95% CI: 2.32-38.01, p < 0.01). Conclusion: Independent of physicians' knowledge and attitudes toward obstructive sleep apnea, the likelihood of making a referral for obstructive sleep apnea evaluation was influenced by whether patients inquired about the condition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-26
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Clinical Sleep Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015


  • Attitudes
  • Community physician
  • Knowledge
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Referral

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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