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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1997 Jan;155(1):9-14.

Population and occupational screening for obstructive sleep apnea: are we there yet?

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Center for Sleep and Respiratory Neurobiology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia 19104-4283, USA.


Several features of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) suggest that it may be an appropriate disease for screening programs for general populations and more specific high-risk groups. Preliminary data suggest that OSA represents an important health problem in terms of high prevalence, increased levels of morbidity and mortality, and increased public safety risk. Furthermore, the chronicity of the disease and the relatively low levels of recognition of the disorder in the medical community suggest a potential for lead-time gains for screening programs. Specific groups that might be considered for screening programs include commercial vehicle operators, hazardous duty personnel, and certain groups of medical patients. The purpose of this clinical commentary is to consider the issues of population and specific group screening for OSA by reviewing the general principles of screening for chronic disease and then applying these principles specifically in the case of OSA. More extensive outcomes data relating levels of severity of the disorder to its potential adverse outcomes are needed and will assist in tailoring appropriate screening programs and determining the cost-effectiveness of screening various populations.

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