Knowledge and attitude of primary health care physicians towards sleep disorders

Saudi Med J. 2000 Dec;21(12):1164-7.


Objectives: Although sleep disorders are common, these are under-recognized and underestimated by many workers in the medical field due to lack of physician's education in sleep and sleep disorders. We conducted this survey to assess the general knowledge and attitude of Primary Health Care Physicians in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia towards sleep disorders.

Methods: A self-administered questionnaire was distributed to all Primary Health Care physicians working in Primary Health Care centers of the Ministry of Health in Riyadh. The following factors were assessed: demographic data of the participating physicians, their background about sleep disorders and their recognition of possible presentations, consequences and diagnostic tests for sleep disorders.

Results: Complete data was available from 209 physicians. Fifty three percent were males and 47% were females. Only 57% agreed that sleep disorders are a distinct medical specialty and 40% felt that sleep disorders are common medical problems based on their practice. The recognition of some of the serious consequences of Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome was poor; motor vehicle accidents (63%), ischemic heart disease (40%), hypertension (50%) and pulmonary hypertension (13%). Only 15% had attended lectures about sleep disorders during their postgraduate training or practice. Physicians who have attended lectures about sleep disorders referred significantly more patients than physicians who have not attended any (P=0.003).

Conclusion: We conclude that Primary Health Care physicians in Riyadh do not completely recognize the importance and impact of Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome and other sleep disorders. Education of Primary Health Care physicians about sleep disorders may increase detection of sleep disorders; and hence, the number of referrals, the provision of proper treatment and the prevention of complications.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Education, Medical, Continuing
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment
  • Physicians, Family / education*
  • Physicians, Family / psychology*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Primary Health Care / methods
  • Primary Health Care / standards*
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Sleep Wake Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Sleep Wake Disorders* / etiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders* / therapy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires