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AASM expands outreach

AASM expands outreach

DARIEN, Ill. – The American Academy of Sleep Medicine will use a new grant from the Centers for Disease Control to reach the millions of Americans who don’t know they have obstructive sleep apnea, says Dr. Raman Malhotra, president. 

“OSA is very common and although we tend to see lots of patients in clinic, it’s interesting that 80% are undiagnosed,” he said. “Millions of Americans don’t even know the symptoms or don’t know what to do if they have symptoms. I think part of the challenge is they are concerned about cost or what’s involved in diagnosis and treatment. Many patients may not be excited about coming in for an overnight study, so educating them about (getting diagnosed) at home easily and more cost-effectively could be another angle to help people see their medical provider.” 

The three-year grant, with approximately $327,000 awarded in the first year, will mainly support education and outreach activities, says Malhotra. 

A big piece of that is partnering with other medical societies, including the National Sleep Foundation, American College of Chest Physicians, American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and American Thoracic Society. 

“We’re still developing strategies for working with other medical societies for reaching different patients through different avenues,” he said. “For example, the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery – a lot of those patients also suffer from sleep apnea and that’s not a group we’ve partnered with as much.” 

The campaign also plans to engage the patient-focused Alliance of Sleep Apnea Partners and a public relations agency to reach certain at-risk populations, including those in Black, Hispanic and Native American communities – groups that tend to be underserved for many health issues, says Malhotra.  

“They have very high rates of sleep apnea and we are working on recognizing and treating it,” he said. “That’s one reason we’re bringing in a patient advocacy group, along with a PR agency, to get that message out to specific populations that we have not targeted enough in the past.” 

While the importance of sleep to overall health has increased in recent years, there is always room for improvement, says Malhotra. 

“There’s certainly been a push to get more people to recognize sleep apnea,” he said. “Even during the pandemic, we’ve recognized how important it is to mental health. “Maybe we will have more emphasis on that, as well to reach more patients. Hopefully, we’ll make a difference here.” 



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