, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 57-63
Date: 05 May 2005

Sleep problems and the risk for sleep disorders in an outpatient veteran population

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We used a self-report questionnaire to identify outpatients with chronic symptoms of sleep disorders and/or high pretest probability for sleep apnea as well as for restless legs syndrome (RLS), insomnia, and narcolepsy. Surveys were presented to patients waiting for an appointment in Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center clinics in Northeast Ohio, USA. Items addressed the frequency of snoring behavior; wake time sleepiness or fatigue and history of obesity/hypertension for high risk for sleep apnea (Netzer et al. 1999), along with other symptoms, were scored as positive vs negative risk for insomnia, narcolepsy, and RLS. Of the patients offered the surveys, 886 (59.2%) provided timely responses to the questionnaire. Mean age was 62.5 years (range, 19 to 85 years); 95% were males; mean body mass index was 29.3 kg/cm2 (range, 15.1 to 57.5 kg/cm2); and mean Epworth Sleepiness Scale score was 8.3 (range, 1 to 22) with 4.6% having a score >17. Of the respondents, 47.4% met high-risk criteria for sleep apnea, 41.7% for insomnia, 19% for restless leg syndrome, and 4.7% for narcolepsy. Twenty-four percent reported use of sleeping pills or bedtime alcohol. Drowsy driving >3–4 days a week or every day was reported in 5.7%. VA primary care patients have high prevalence for pretest probability for sleep apnea. This population also reports chronic symptoms for other sleep disorders and for drowsy driving.