Assessment, referral and management of obstructive sleep apnea by Australian general practitioners: a qualitative analysis

Nicole Grivell*, Jenny Haycock, Anne Redman, Andrew Vakulin, Nicholas Zwar, Nigel Stocks, Oliver Frank, Richard Reed, Ching Li Chai-Coetzer, Ronald R. Grunstein, R. Doug McEvoy, Elizabeth Hoon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Background: The high and increasing demand for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) care has exceeded the capacity of specialist sleep services prompting consideration of whether general practitioners could have an enhanced role in service delivery. However, little is known about the current involvement, experiences and attitudes of Australian general practitioners towards OSA. The purpose of this study was to provide an in-depth analysis of Australian general practitioners’ experiences and opinions regarding their care of patients with OSA to inform the design and implementation of new general practice models of care. Methods: Purposive sampling was used to recruit participants with maximum variation in age, experience and location. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and were analysed using Thematic Analysis. Results: Three major themes were identified: (1) General practitioners are important in recognising symptoms of OSA and facilitating a diagnosis by others; (2) Inequities in access to the assessment and management of OSA; and (3) General practitioners currently have a limited role in the management of OSA. Conclusions: When consulting with patients with symptoms of OSA, general practitioners see their primary responsibility as providing a referral for diagnosis by others. General practitioners working with patients in areas of greater need, such as rural/remote areas and those of socio-economic disadvantage, demonstrated interest in being more involved in OSA management. Inequities in access to assessment and management are potential drivers for change in future models of care for OSA in general practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1248
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2021

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