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Perceptions of Health Education for Patients with Sleep Apnoea

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paper

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAssociation of Dental Education in Europe, At Szeged, Hungary
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015

King's Authors


Perceptions of health education for patients with sleep apnoea
Sleep apnoea is a common sleep disorder affecting approximately 4% of men and 2% of women in the UK. It is underdiagnosed with many individuals not realizing that they are experiencing apnoea during sleep. Health education involving life-style changes is an important means to manage sleep apnoea. Increasingly dentists are providing health education along with mandibular advancement devices to open the airway, however there is little research into the patients’ understanding of the required life-style changes. The aim of this study is to assess patients’ understanding of life-style factors which affects sleep apnoea.

Materials and Methods
A prospective 11 item questionnaire was given to 50 consecutive patients attending a dental sleep apnoea clinic in order to assess their understanding of relevant life-style factors. Life-style questions included questions on alcohol consumption, smoking and weight loss.
58% of patients had been diagnosed for longer than 2 years and had seen several health care teams. 22% of patients drank more than 21 units of alcohol per week and 72% reported that they were not aware that alcohol adversely affected the condition. 46% were smokers higher than the UK average and 65% were not aware of the adverse effect of smoking on sleep apnoea. 56% had been advised to lose weight but few had acted upon this advice.

Consequences of sleep apnoea can be severe leading to high blood pressure, cardiac arrest, stroke and even greater risk of car accidents. This survey has identified a significant need for health education of these patients even though the majority 58% had seen health care teams in the previous two years. Dentists can have a key role in this education and dental schools need to consider introducing sleep apnoea teaching into their curricula.

Dentists are in a unique position to educate and care for mild to moderate sleep apnoea patients. However, few dental schools include the education of sleep apnoea in their curricula. Sleep apnoea has serious consequences if untreated and dentists do have a potentially increasing role in holistic health care. Dental schools need to educate students to broach subjects such as weight loss and smoking cessation in a supportive and tactful manner.

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