To determine the reproducibility of the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) score in a clinical population referred for diagnostic testing with suspected obstructive sleep apnea.
A retrospective audit of patients referred for a diagnostic sleep study with suspected sleep apnea was undertaken. Data collection was two 3-month time periods from January to March in 2012 and 2014. To evaluate reproducibility, the ESS score at primary care referral was compared to the ESS score at first specialist assessment/sleep assessment. The proportion of scores changing by more than 2, 3, 5, or 7 points was determined. Data were analyzed using Bland-Altman plots and paired t tests.
A total of 154 patients (68% male) with a mean ± standard deviation age of 51 ± 13 years, body mass index 36 ± 10 kg/m2, and apnea-hypopnea index 43 ± 40 events/h were included. The average ESS score change was −0.2 with a standard deviation of 3.9 reflecting a wide scatter. A difference between the sequential ESS scores of 5 or more was seen in 21% of subjects.
In a clinical obstructive sleep apnea referral population, the ESS score was variable when administered sequentially. Given this variability the ESS should not be used as the sole tool to prioritize patients for obstructive sleep apnea assessment.
A commentary on this article appears in this issue on page 711.
Campbell AJ, Neill AM, Scott DA. Clinical reproducibility of the Epworth Sleepiness Scale for patients with suspected sleep apnea. J Clin Sleep Med. 2018;14(5):791–795.