Screening Commercial Vehicle Drivers for Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Tools, Barriers, and Recommendations

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Abstract

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a disorder characterized by a cessation of breathing during sleep, leading to poor sleep patterns and daytime somnolence. Daytime somnolence is of particular concern for commercial vehicle drivers, whose crash risk increases 50% with untreated OSA. The process of diagnosing and treating OSA in commercial drivers begins with effective and consistent screening. Therefore, the researchers screened drivers with both the STOP-Bang Questionnaire and the Obstructive Sleep Apnea Evaluation Worksheet (OSAEW) and compared the two tools. Drivers screening positive on the STOP-Bang Questionnaire, OSAEW, and both questionnaires were 28%, 23%, and 13%, respectively. Sleep study referrals were made for 50 drivers; 12 drivers were scheduled for sleep tests within 3 months. Health care provider referral rates for drivers screening at high risk (37%) and commercial driver monitoring rates (24%) were both low. Recommendations to improve OSA screening and testing practices include Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration–mandated screening and referral guidelines, employee-facilitated sleep testing, and OSA awareness campaigns.

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