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Adult Sleep Apnea


Improving the Diagnosis of Sleep Apnea

In 2015, our community advisors identified sleep apnea as an important issue affecting their communities. They realized that it was a common issue that was not being discussed between friends, family members, neighbors, or at local health fairs. Yet, at the same time, it seemed that many people suffered from symptoms but lacked a diagnosis. Since then, we have formed a community advisory board focused on sleep apnea that meets regularly and has advised on several funded projects and grant applications.


As part of a PCORI Methods grant (ME-1303-5843), our community advisory board focused on developing local solutions for sleep apnea. Through the combination of Appreciative Inquiry with Boot Camp Translation, this group developed a set of key messages targeted at diverse individuals in their community: (1) sleep is an important part of health and well-being, (2) poor sleep can lead to numerous health issues and poor quality of life, (3) if you are not sleeping well, then you ought to talk to your doctor. Sleep apnea is one cause of poor sleep, and undiagnosed sleep apnea is associated with high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and depression.

From there, one of our current board members Matthew Simpson engaged this group as part of a research career development program sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Expanding upon the previous work, he worked in conjunction with the community advisory board to further understand what issues and problems people face when trying to get a diagnosis of sleep apnea. The goal with this work is to develop a community health promotion campaign to encourage people with symptoms of sleep apnea to seek care, discuss their symptoms with their doctor, and, if recommended, complete a sleep study.


In the future, our group is applying for grants to disseminate and evaluate the community health program. Additionally, we are looking at several projects in primary care practices to try to improve the detection of sleep apnea in primary care. We are also focused on trying to understand and address the racial/ethnic disparities that we know exist with sleep apnea

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