University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA
Correspondence to: Helena Schotland, MD, Division of Sleep Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19104; e-mail: email@example.com
In their article, Namen and colleagues (June 2002)1 reported an encouraging 12-fold increase in the number of outpatient visits for sleep apnea over a 9-year period. Indeed, it seems as if the glass is half full. However, the discouraging news was that this significant increase occurred primarily from 1992 to 1996, with a return to the status quo from 1996 to 1998. In contrast to the number of visits for sleep apnea, the number of outpatient visits for insomnia has continued to increase yearly. I am concerned that the glass is, in fact, half empty.
I believe that improving physicians’ knowledge about sleep apnea is critical for improving sleep apnea-related screening and treatment practices. Although there has been a clear call for the development of sleep apnea educational programs by the sleep community,2–4 to date no sleep apnea educational programs have been developed, instituted, and tested in a prospective, randomized manner among health-care providers. However, any sleep apnea educational intervention will not only need to increase physician recognition and treatment of sleep apnea, but will also need to demonstrate an improvement in patient outcomes. Thus, as Drs. Littner and Alessi suggest in their editorial,5 it is these patient outcomes that will further persuade health-care providers to identify and treat even more patients with sleep apnea.
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