Sleep and Breathing

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 1347–1354 | Cite as

The utility of patient-completed and partner-completed Epworth Sleepiness Scale scores in the evaluation of obstructive sleep apnea

  • Sushanth Bhat
  • Hinesh Upadhyay
  • Vincent A DeBari
  • Muhammad Ahmad
  • Peter G Polos
  • Sudhansu Chokroverty
Epidemiology • Original Article



Excessive daytime sleepiness in obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is often rated differently by patients and their partners. This cross-sectional study compared the utility of patient-completed and partner-completed Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) scores in the evaluation of suspected OSA.


Eighty-five patient-partner pairs were enrolled, and 75 patients completed diagnostic sleep studies. The individual and combined utilities of patient-completed and partner-completed ESS scores in identifying OSA and predicting various sleep study-derived indicators of disease severity were determined.


Mean partner-completed ESS scores were higher than patient-completed ESS scores (12.3 ± 4.2 vs. 9.4 ± 4.8, p < 0.0001); Bland-Altman plot showed significant bias (partner-completed ESS scores 33.5 % higher, SD ±55.2 %). Partner-completed and combined (but not patient-completed) ESS scores correlated weakly with the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI; partner-completed ESS score r s  = 0.25, p = 0.029; combined ESS score r s  = 0.29, p = 0.013) and oxygen desaturation index (partner-completed ESS score r s  = 0.26, p = 0.025; combined ESS score r s  = 0.23, p = 0.047). None of the ESS scores correlated with body mass index, arousal index, or other parameters of nocturnal oxygen desaturation. In OSA (AHI > 15/h) detection, partner-completed ESS scores had greater sensitivity than patient-completed ESS scores (76.9 vs. 46.2 %) but poorer specificity (39.1 vs. 65.2 %); sensitivity was greatest (82.7 %) when either patient-completed or partner-completed ESS score was 10 or higher, and specificity was greatest (80.8 %) when both scores were 10 or higher.


Neither patient-completed nor partner-completed ESS scores by themselves have great utility in identifying OSA or predicting its severity. However, taking both scores into consideration together improves the sensitivity and specificity of the screening process.


Epworth Sleepiness Scale Obstructive sleep apnea Patient-completed Epworth Sleepiness Scale Partner-completed Epworth Sleepiness Scale Spouse-completed Epworth Sleepiness Scale Spouses and obstructive sleep apnea 


Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical statement

The authors declare that all human and animal studies have been approved by the appropriate ethics committee and have therefore been performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments. All subjects provided written informed consent before participating in this study.

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sushanth Bhat
    • 1
  • Hinesh Upadhyay
    • 1
  • Vincent A DeBari
    • 2
  • Muhammad Ahmad
    • 1
  • Peter G Polos
    • 1
  • Sudhansu Chokroverty
    • 1
  1. 1.JFK Neuroscience Institute/Seton Hall UniversityEdison,USA
  2. 2.Seton Hall UniversitySouth OrangeUSA

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