Patients who undergo treatment for sleep apnea show similar improvements in sleepiness scores when treated by a primary care physician or by a sleep specialist, according to data from an Australian study.
In the study, 155 patients with obstructive sleep apnea were treated at a primary care practice or at a university sleep medicine center. Both plans included continuous positive airway pressure, mandibular advancement splints, or conservative measures only.
Six-month change in the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) score—which ranges from 0, for no daytime sleepiness, to 24 for a high level of daytime sleepiness—was the primary outcome.
There were significant improvements in ESS scores from baseline to 6 months in both groups. The mean baseline scores decreased from 12.8 to 7.0 and from 12.5 to 7.0 in patients treated by primary care physicians and specialists, respectively.
In addition, the cost of treatment provided by a primary care physician was more than $1000 lower than that from a specialist.
The study, Primary Care vs Specialist Sleep Center Management of Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Daytime Sleepiness and Quality of Life, appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association.