Diagnostic Delay of Narcolepsy: Contributing Factors and Implications for Clinicians
Narcolepsy is a lifelong condition affecting one person per every 2000 worldwide. It is widely underrecognized and most are not diagnosed until 10–15 years after initial symptom onset. The purpose of this review was to provide an overview on the factors that contribute to the diagnostic delay of narcolepsy along with associated implications for clinicians.
A search of the literature in electronic databases was conducted examining data related to a diagnosis of narcolepsy. Keywords used for the search included ‘diagnosing narcolepsy,’ ‘delayed diagnosis of sleep disorders,’ etc. Of approximately 50 articles, 15 were included in this review for their relevancy and evidence, based on the Strength of Recommendation Taxonomy (SORT) system.
On average, the duration in diagnostic delay was reported to be 7 years. Contributing factors included the absence of cataplexy, lack of awareness and underrecognition, presence of comorbidities and medications, limitations of and lack of consistency in current diagnostic methods, and age of onset.
This review highlighted major contributing factors of the diagnostic delay of narcolepsy. Recommendations for clinicians included the following: (1) learn and disseminate information about narcolepsy and (2) what narcolepsy is NOT, and; (3) employ evidence-based diagnostic procedures and/or refer to specialist.
KeywordsSleep disorders Diagnosis Comorbidity Evidence based medicine Primary care
All authors contributed in a significant way to the manuscript and have read and approved the final version.
There are no funding sources to report for this manuscript.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors report no conflicts of interest.
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