Doctors and patients agree on the importance of sleep for health, but few physicians get a history of patient sleep, and few patients discuss sleep problems with health care providers, according to a new national survey.
“Everyone believes that sleep should be a pillar of health, but there is a huge communication gap between patients and health care providers that may prevent effective treatment of patients with insomnia,” said Ruth Benca, MD, PhD, Wake Forest University School of Medicine and Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, said Medscape Medical News.
In the Wake Up America survey, 1001 adults diagnosed with insomnia or self-reported sleep disorders and 300 primary care physicians (PCPs) and 152 psychiatrists were asked about their opinions and attitudes about insomnia care.
The findings were presented at SLEEP 2022 at the 36th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Society.
The majority of patients with sleep difficulties reported frustration (54%), anger (52%), or stress (51%) and / or impaired mood (59%). However, 57% did not talk to their doctor about it.
Almost all PCPs (98%) and psychiatrists (97%) stated that sleep is essential for good health, but only 12% of PCPs and 24% of psychiatrists have a complete sleep history.
In terms of treatment, 66% of patients with sleep problems do not believe that their current treatment options improve sleep properly. However, 50% of PCPs feel satisfied with their current treatment.
“There’s a perception among patients that they need some help sleeping, but there’s nothing, or maybe their doctors aren’t talking about it,” said Benca, head of The Alliance for Sleep.
Another problem, Benca said, is that there is a great deal of “stigma” in many patients taking anti-insomnia medications, or even taking bedtime treatment; on the contrary, they believe that they should take care of the problem themselves.
“Now that everyone is starting to realize how important sleep is, in practice, we still don’t treat sleep as something as important as diet and exercise and health behaviors,” Benca said.
“It’s not enough to say that sleep is important. We need to put our money where it belongs – doctors need to deal with it and patients need to talk about it,” he added.
Disconnecting the Patient-Physician
Commenting on the study Medscape Medical News, Dr. Shaheen E. Lakhan, MD, a neurologist and pain specialist in Boston, Massachusetts, said the majority of his patients have been diagnosed with sleep disorders.
The results of this survey, he said, “highlight the inadequate satisfaction of current insomnia therapists among patients with insomnia and providers who treat insomnia.”
The survey also highlights a “deep stigma associated with taking sleep medications,” such as the controlled substances zolpidem (Ambien) and eszopiclone (Lunesta), Lakhan said.
“While acknowledging the importance of sleep for overall health, very few physicians tend to treat patients with a full sleep history. Composing minimal medical screening with patient stigma ultimately disables the patient and jeopardizes equitable access to sleep treatments,” Lakhan said. .
And while the study had an interesting design – a group of people with insomnia was compared to a group of doctors who treat insomnia – Lakhan said he would like to see more survey studies linking patients’ perceptions to doctors who actually treat them. to determine the level of inadequacy across the board.
Wake-Up America: The Night & Day Insomnia survey was conducted online between September and October 2021 by The Harris Poll on behalf of Idorsia Pharmaceuticals.
Benca reports that he is a consultant for Idorsia Pharmaceuticals. Lakhan has not released any relevant information.
SLEEP 2022: 36th Annual Meeting of Associated Professional Sleep Associations. Summary 0428. Filed June 6, 2022.
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