Frequently used sleep questionnaires in epidemiological and genetic research for obstructive sleep apnea: a review

Sleep Med Rev. 2012 Dec;16(6):529-37. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2011.12.002. Epub 2012 Mar 17.


Background & aims: Many sleep questionnaires are utilized by the epidemiological and genetic research communities. This paper reviewed sleep-related questions and answers commonly used in epidemiological studies (focused on sleep apnea and snoring), with an emphasis on the utility of the response options.

Methods: A literature search was conducted to identify relevant sleep questionnaires. Questionnaires were limited to the English language and had to include questions specific to snoring or stop breathing during sleep. Questionnaires had to demonstrate a citation count >10 through Web of Science. A comparison of questions and answers, and elements important in the design of good quality instruments was conducted.

Results: Fourteen questionnaires met the inclusion criteria for final review. Validation was conducted for many of these instruments, though the methods and validation populations were highly variable. Study sample sizes were also relatively small and differed in methods of data analysis. These questionnaires were very heterogeneous, with only some (n = 6) allowing a "don't know" alternative. Six specified the time period referred to as "past month", one referred to "last three months" and the remaining questionnaires had no specific timeframe. The response alternatives to specific questions were Yes/No (n = 5), wording only like "never", "seldom", "often" (n = 4), or a frequency scale indicating times per week (n = 8).

Conclusions: There is a need for improved standardized instruments not only to capture relevant sleep information but also to allow greater comparability between studies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / diagnosis
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / epidemiology*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / genetics
  • Sleep*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires* / standards