Follow-up and Time to Treatment in an Urban Cohort of Children with Sleep-Disordered Breathing

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To evaluate follow-up and timing of sleep-disordered breathing diagnosis and treatment in urban children referred from primary care.

Study Design

Retrospective longitudinal cohort analysis.


Tertiary health system.

Subjects and Methods

Pediatric outpatients with sleep-disordered breathing, referred from primary care for subspecialty appointment or polysomnography in 2014, followed for 2 years. Timing of polysomnography or subspecialty appointments, loss to follow-up, and sleep-disordered breathing severity were main outcomes. Chi-square and t-test identified differences in children referred for polysomnography, surgery, and loss to follow-up. Logistic regression identified predictors of loss to follow-up. Days to polysomnography or surgery were evaluated using the Kaplan-Meier estimator, with Cox regression comparing estimates by polysomnography receipt and disease severity.


Of 216 children, 188 (87%) had public insurance. Half (109 [50%]) were lost to follow-up after primary care referral. More children were lost to follow-up when referred for polysomnography (50 [76%]) compared with subspecialty evaluation (35 [32%]; P < .001). Children referred to both polysomnography and subspecialty were more likely to be lost to follow-up (odds ratio = 2.73, 95% confidence interval = 1.29-5.78; P = .009). For children who obtained polysomnography, an asymmetric distribution of obstructive sleep apnea severity was not observed (P = .152). Median time to polysomnography and surgery was 75 and 226 days, respectively. Obstructive sleep apnea severity did not influence time to surgery (P = .410).


In this urban population, half of the children referred for sleep-disordered breathing evaluation are lost to follow-up from primary care. Obstructive sleep apnea severity did not predict follow-up or timeliness of treatment. These findings suggest social determinants may pose barriers to care in addition to the clinical burden of sleep-disordered breathing.

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