Practice patterns of screening for sleep apnea in physicians treating PCOS patients

Sleep Breath. 2007 Dec;11(4):233-7. doi: 10.1007/s11325-007-0120-3.


Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) have been shown to have a very high prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Screening for OSA is recommended for PCOS patients. How far this is carried out in actual practice is unknown. To study practice patterns with regard to screening for OSA in physicians-both obstetrician/gynecologists (ObGyn) and endocrinologist-who manage PCOS. A secondary aim of this study was to identify practice differences, if any. Two hundred ObGyn and 140 endocrine academic institutions were contacted and mailed with questionnaires, if willing to participate. Responses were obtained from 50 (29.4%) ObGyn physicians and 29 (26.4%) endocrine physicians. The questionnaire was closed-ended. Physicians reported a high occurrence of obesity-36.7% of the physicians reported that 75-100% of their patients had morbid obesity. However, reported prevalence of symptoms was low-86.1% of the physicians felt their patients snored infrequently (<25% of the time) and 74.7% felt that their patients had excess daytime sleepiness (EDS) infrequently. Of the physicians, 92.4% ordered a sleep study <25% of the time. No significant difference in practice between the specialties was identified. Physicians who manage PCOS patients do not believe that these patients have significant symptoms nor warrant frequent testing for OSA. This may reflect lack of knowledge about the link or may imply that PCOS patients remain largely asymptomatic. Educating specialist physicians managing PCOS about OSA and improved tools for OSA screening may improve detection.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Obesity / diagnosis
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Prevalence
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / diagnosis*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / epidemiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires