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Sleep and Vigilance

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 103–109 | Cite as

Diagnostic Delay of Narcolepsy: Contributing Factors and Implications for Clinicians

  • Jagriti BhattaraiEmail author
  • Scott W. Sumerall
Review

Abstract

Purpose

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.

Methods

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.

Results

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.

Conclusions

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.

Keywords

Sleep disorders Diagnosis Comorbidity Evidence based medicine Primary care 

Notes

Author Contribution

All authors contributed in a significant way to the manuscript and have read and approved the final version.

Funding

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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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Rehabilitation Psychology and Neuropsychology, Department of Physical Medicine and RehabilitationJohns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.VA Eastern Kansas Health Care SystemDwight D. Eisenhower VA Medical CentreLeavenworthUSA

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