Background: This pragmatic randomised, controlled trial investigated annual review of patients with sleep apnea/hypopnea syndrome (SAHS). Clinical outcomes and costs were compared for consultant clinic review versus specialist nurse home visit.
Method: One hundred and seventy-four patients were randomised to annual review by consultant clinic appointment or by specialist nurse home visit. SAHS symptoms, Epworth score, hospital anxiety and depression scale (HADS), Short Form-36 (SF-36) and hours of use of constant positive airway pressure (CPAP) were measured before and 3 months after review. The costs and patient preference for review were determined.
Results: After review, both groups significantly increased CPAP use (mean (SD) increase: nurse, 0.66 (1.71) h; consultant, 0.45 (1.69) h) and reduced symptom scores (nurse, -2 (7); consultant, -3 (9)), compared to baseline. There were no differences between groups in these improvements, or in HADS or SF-36 scores. Average duration of a nurse home visit, excluding travel time, was 26 (6) min. Total NHS cost per visit was 52.26 UK pounds (49.85) ($83.62 (79.76)), of which 6.57 UK pounds (1.43) ($10.51 (2.29)) reflected time spent with the patient and the remainder was travel cost. Average duration of consultant review was 10 (6) min, total NHS cost 6.21 UK pounds (3.99) ($9.94 (6.38)). However, the cost to the patient of attending the clinic was 23.63 UK pounds (23.21) ($37.81 (37.13)). Patient preference for review was nurse 16%, consultant 19%, and no preference 65%.
Conclusion: Following annual review, use of CPAP increased and symptoms improved. Outcomes were similar for consultant and nurse led review. Home visits were expensive for the healthcare provider, whereas clinic attendance incurred substantial costs to the patient. The majority of patients would accept nurse review for their sleep apnea management.