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A systematic review of pharmacists performing obstructive sleep apnea screening services


Background Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a chronic sleep disorder associated with a varying degree of upper airway collapse during sleep. Left untreated, OSA can lead to the development of cardiovascular disease including risk of stroke and increased mortality. Pharmacists are the most accessible and underutilized healthcare resource in the community and can have a significant role in screening patients for OSA. The result may include an expedited referral to the patient’s general practitioners or sleep disorder specialists for further diagnostic assessment and therapeutic intervention. Aim of the review The primary aim of this review was to identify the current published evidence of pharmacists providing OSA screening services in a community pharmacy setting. Methods A literature search was conducted to identify evidence of pharmacists providing OSA screening services. The literature search including five databases [PubMed, (1946-January 2015), Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature, International Pharmaceutical Abstracts (1970 to January 2015), Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and Google Scholar] with search terms of (“pharmacist or pharmacy”) AND (“obstructive sleep apnea”) AND (“sleep disorders”) AND (“continuous positive airway pressure—CPAP”) were used. Articles were limited to English and reported in humans. Results A total of seven publications (four Australia, two Switzerland and one France) were selected and evaluated. Pharmacists utilized validated screening tools in 6/7 (86 %) of clinical studies to assist in the identification of patients with sleep disorders in community pharmacies. A total of 1701 pharmacies encompassing 9177 patients were screened in the clinical studies. Pharmacists were able to identify between 21.4 and 67 % of patients that were at risk for developing OSA or required a referral to a general practitioner or sleep disorder specialist for further diagnostic testing. Conclusion Studies assessing the role of pharmacists performing OSA screening services remains limited due to the small number of studies available and differences in methodological assessment. More qualitative studies including randomized controlled trials are needed to better identify the value of pharmacists providing this novel service.

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Correspondence to Michael J. Cawley.

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Cawley, M.J., Warning, W.J. A systematic review of pharmacists performing obstructive sleep apnea screening services. Int J Clin Pharm 38, 752–760 (2016).

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  • Airway pressure
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Pharmacist
  • Review
  • Screening services
  • Sleep disorders