The Berlin questionnaire for sleep apnea in a sleep clinic population: relationship to polysomnographic measurement of respiratory disturbance

Sleep Breath. 2008 Mar;12(1):39-45. doi: 10.1007/s11325-007-0125-y.


The Berlin questionnaire (BQ) has been used to help identify patients at high risk of having sleep apnea in primary care and atrial fibrillation patients. The BQ may be a useful adjunct in sleep medicine and research, but it has never been validated in a sleep clinic population. The aim of the study is to determine the specificity and sensitivity of the BQ compared to the respiratory disturbance index (RDI) values obtained from two nights of polysomnographic recording in a sleep clinic population. This is a retrospective chart review study of 130 sleep clinic patients. Patients' demographics, BQ scores, RDI measurements, and sleep study parameters were extracted from the patients' chart. Of the 130 charts reviewed, the BQ identified 76 (58.5%) as being at high-risk of having sleep apnea, but overnight polysomnography found only 34 of the 130 patients (26.2%) had an RDI > 10. The BQ performed with 0.62 sensitivity and 0.43 specificity at the RDI > 10 level. Due to the low sensitivity and specificity as well as the large number of false negatives and positives, the Berlin questionnaire is not an appropriate instrument for identifying patients with sleep apnea in a sleep clinic population.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Age Factors
  • Body Mass Index
  • Disorders of Excessive Somnolence / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polysomnography* / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychometrics / statistics & numerical data
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / diagnosis*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*