Patient preference survey: are patients willing to delay surgery if obstructive sleep apnea is suspected?

BMC Anesthesiol. 2018 Sep 12;18(1):128. doi: 10.1186/s12871-018-0594-5.


Background: Screening and optimizing patients for OSA in the perioperative period may reduce postoperative complications. However, sleep studies can be difficult to obtain before surgery. Previous surveys reported that the majority of sleep physicians would delay surgery to diagnose and manage OSA, but most anesthesiologists would not. While disagreements exist, the importance of shared decision making and patient preferences have never been studied on this topic. It is unknown whether patients with suspected OSA, when given information about OSA, would be willing to delay surgery to diagnose and manage their condition preoperatively.

Methods: This study consisted of a self-administered questionnaire that surveyed patients, patient relatives, or any accompanying members. The survey was conducted in the preoperative clinic or in the perioperative patient and family waiting area at two hospitals in Canada and in the United States. A hypothetical scenario was used: participants were given information about OSA, and asked about their preferences regarding preoperative management should they be at risk for OSA in the setting of pending elective surgery. The objective of this study was to determine whether respondents preferred to 1) proceed with surgery as planned, 2) delay surgery to ensure the medical condition of OSA is diagnosed and optimized, or 3) let his/her physician decide.

Results: The final survey contained 19 questions and the survey was conducted from June 2016 to September 2016. Four hundred and seventy-three surveys were collected. Forty-four percent of respondents, when given information about OSA, preferred to delay surgery pending a sleep study and treatment. Forty percent of respondents who preferred to delay surgery would tolerate delaying up to two months.

Conclusion: Increasing emphasis and significant value has been placed on shared-decision making between patients and physicians. Educating patients about the risks of OSA and incorporating patient preferences into the perioperative management of OSA may be warranted.

Keywords: Anesthesiology; Decision making; Obstructive sleep apnea; Surveys.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Preference / psychology*
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control*
  • Postoperative Complications / psychology*
  • Preoperative Care / methods
  • Preoperative Care / psychology*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / diagnosis
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / psychology*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / surgery
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*