An observational study of the effectiveness of alternative care providers in the management of obstructive sleep apnea

J Sleep Res. 2016 Apr;25(2):234-40. doi: 10.1111/jsr.12358. Epub 2015 Oct 27.


Alternative care providers have been proposed as a substitute for physician-based management of obstructive sleep apnea. The purpose of this study was to describe the clinical course of patients with a new diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea who were treated with continuous positive airway pressure and followed by alternative care providers at a tertiary care sleep clinic. It was hypothesized that care by alternative care providers would result in improvement of daytime sleepiness and satisfactory treatment adherence, and that a specific number of follow-up visits could be identified after which clinical outcomes no longer improved. The Epworth Sleepiness Scale score was measured for each patient at baseline and at each alternative care provider visit. Patients were discharged when they demonstrated a significant improvement in sleepiness and were adherent to therapy. The Epworth Sleepiness Scale score decreased by 3.9 points from baseline to discharge. Patients with three or more visits required more follow-up time to achieve the same clinical improvement as those with only two visits. Continuous positive airway pressure adherence was comparable to previous studies of physician-led care and improved with ongoing alternative care provider follow-up. The current results suggest that clinical care by alternative care providers leads to continued improvements in sleepiness in patients with obstructive sleep apnea who are treated with continuous positive airway pressure, and that a minority of patients require longer follow-up to achieve a satisfactory clinical response to therapy.

Keywords: continuous positive airway pressure; healthcare providers; patient access.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Complementary Therapies*
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / therapy*
  • Sleep Stages
  • Treatment Outcome