Knowledge and attitudes of primary care physicians toward sleep and sleep disorders

Sleep Breath. 2002 Sep;6(3):103-9. doi: 10.1007/s11325-002-0103-3.


Purpose: To assess primary care physician (PCP) sleep knowledge and attitudes.

Method: A sample of 580 PCPs practicing adult medicine in Northeast Ohio was selected, using a systematic random method (every 10th name on the American Medical Association mailing list). A three-part structured survey consisted of 30 attitude items and 33 multiple-choice test questions assessing knowledge, with some demographic questions. Repeat mailings were sent to nonrespondents 4 to 6 weeks apart from October 1999 through April 2000.

Results: 46 surveys were undeliverable and 105 (20%) useable questionnaires were returned. Of respondents, 94% were board certified with 76% certified in more than one area. When asked to rate their knowledge of sleep disorders, none rated themselves as excellent, 10% rated themselves as good, 60% as fair, and 30% as poor. The factors rated highest in influencing current practices regarding sleep and sleep disorders were articles in journals, continuing medical education courses, and discussions with specialists. Knowledge average was 34% (3 to 94%). Though virtually all agreed that prevention counseling should be a part of patient care, fewer agreed that they spend more time counseling patients on the benefits of sleep than of diet or exercise.

Conclusions: The majority of PCPs rated their own knowledge of sleep disorders as fair or poor. Knowledge testing and attitude assessment lend credence to these perceptions.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude*
  • Cognition*
  • Education, Medical
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires