Management of sleep disorders in community-dwelling older women and men at the time of diagnosis
Pop P, Bronskill SE, Piggott KL, Stall NM, Savage RD, Visentin JD, McCarthy LM, Giannakes V, Wu W, Gruneir A, Gatley JM, Rochon PA. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2019; 67(10):2094-101. Epub 2019 Jun 21. DOI: 10.1111/jgs.16038.
Objectives — Sedative and hypnotic medications are associated with harm, and guidelines suggest limiting their use. Only limited evidence has described how older adults are managed following an initial sleep disorder diagnosis. We aimed to describe clinical management patterns of sleep disorders in older women and men at the time of initial diagnosis.
Design — Population-based retrospective cohort study using linked administrative databases.
Setting — Ontario, Canada.
Participants — Community-dwelling adults aged 66 and older, diagnosed with a new sleep disorder by a primary care provider (n = 30 729; 56% women and 44% men). We compared women and men for each outcome.
Measurements — The primary outcome was prescription of a medication used for sleep within 30 days of a new sleep disorder diagnosis. Additional analysis included medical investigations such as sleep studies and visits to specialists who manage obstructive sleep disorders within 90 days of diagnosis.
Results — Among the 30 729 older adults with a new sleep disorder diagnosis, 5512 (17.9% total; 18.8% of women and 16.9% of men) were prescribed a medication used for sleep. Compared with men, women were somewhat more likely to be prescribed at least one sedative medication (adjusted odds ratio = 1.09; 95% confidence interval = 1.03-1.16). A total of 2573 (8.4%) older adults underwent a sleep study, and 3743 (12.2%) were evaluated by a specialist; both occurred more commonly in men.
Conclusion — In our cohort, almost 1 in 5 older adults with a new sleep disorder diagnosis were prescribed a medication used for sleep; of these, a higher proportion were women. Comparatively few older adults were further evaluated; of these, a higher proportion were men. Our study highlights the high rates at which medications are prescribed to older adults with a new sleep disorder diagnosis and identifies potential sex differences in the management of such diagnoses.