Background: Previous research has established that general sleep screening questionnaires are not valid and reliable in an athlete population. The Athlete Sleep Screening Questionnaire (ASSQ) was developed to address this need. While the initial validation of the ASSQ has been established, the clinical validity of the ASSQ has yet to be determined. The main objective of the current study was to evaluate the clinical validity of the ASSQ.
Methods: Canadian National Team athletes (N = 199; mean age 24.0 ± 4.2 years, 62% females; from 23 sports) completed the ASSQ. A subset of athletes (N = 46) were randomized to the clinical validation sub-study which required subjects to complete an ASSQ at times 2 and 3 and to have a clinical sleep interview by a sleep medicine physician (SMP) who rated each subjects' category of clinical sleep problem and provided recommendations to improve sleep. To assess clinical validity, the SMP category of clinical sleep problem was compared to the ASSQ.
Results: The internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha = 0.74) and test-retest reliability (r = 0.86) of the ASSQ were acceptable. The ASSQ demonstrated good agreement with the SMP (Cohen's kappa = 0.84) which yielded a diagnostic sensitivity of 81%, specificity of 93%, positive predictive value of 87%, and negative predictive value of 90%. There were 25.1% of athletes identified to have clinically relevant sleep disturbances that required further clinical sleep assessment. Sleep improved from time 1 at baseline to after the recommendations at time 3.
Conclusions: Sleep screening athletes with the ASSQ provides a method of accurately determining which athletes would benefit from preventative measures and which athletes suffer from clinically significant sleep problems. The process of sleep screening athletes and providing recommendations improves sleep and offers a clinical intervention output that is simple and efficient for teams and athletes to implement.
Keywords: Elite athletes; Sleep disturbances; Sleep interventions.