Obstructive Sleep Apnea Knowledge: Attitudes and screening practices of Minnesota dental hygienists

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Purpose: Reported cases of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) range between 4% to 9%, however between 70% to 90% of adults in the United States remain undiagnosed. The purpose of this study was to determine the current knowledge and attitudes of OSA among Minnesota dental hygienists and inventory OSA screening protocols currently used in dental practices.Methods: The cross sectional study used an adapted Obstructive Sleep Apnea Knowledge and Attitude (OSAKA) survey instrument. Survey items included demographic variables, and measured attitudes, knowledge and perceived knowledge about OSA, routine screening procedures, and use of validated OSA screening protocols. Paper surveys were mailed to a random sample of 750 licensed Minnesota dental hygienists. Analyses included descriptive statistics (counts and frequencies), and analytic tests (one-way ANOVA, Pearson's correlation, and t-tests, Cronbach's alpha), as appropriate.Results: Twenty-six percent of the returned surveys met inclusion criteria (n=197) and were used in the final analyses. Respondent age ranged from 19 to 70 years and mean years in practice experience was 19.9. The majority (93.9%) were in general practice and had completed an associate degree (59.6%). The mean (SD) self-rated OSA knowledge was 3.5 (3.3) on a scale of 0-10, attitude score was 3.2 (0.8) on a 5-point Likert scale, and knowledge score was 9.5 (range 0-17). No significant differences were found by age, degree type, or years in practice and OSA knowledge or attitudes. Routine practices included head and neck exams (89.3%), taking blood pressure (41.6%). Using a validated OSA screening protocol was reported by 9.6% of the respondents.Conclusion: Dental hygienists perceive that assessing patients for OSA is important, however they have moderate knowledge of the disease. Results support incorporating OSA into dental hygiene practice through additions to the dental hygiene education curriculum and ongoing professional development courses with the goal of improving the screening and referral of patients presenting with OSA symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-36
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of dental hygiene : JDH
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019


  • OSA screening
  • dental hygiene education
  • obstructive sleep apnea
  • professional role
  • sleep disorders


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