Children With Obstructive Sleep-Disordered Breathing Experience Care Inequities

Little girl sleeping child sleeping
Little girl sleeping child sleeping
Researchers sought to examine the drivers behind treatment inequities in children with obstructive sleep-disordered breathing.

Interviews with parents of children diagnosed with obstructive sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) reveal both facilitators and barriers to treatment, according to study results presented at the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) 2022 Annual Meeting and OTO Experience, held from September 10 to 14, 2022, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Researchers conducted semi-structured interviews with parents of children diagnosed with SDB to examine these disparities as they pertain to parental facilitators or barriers.

Patients with SDB were identified via purposive sampling that reflected local demographics. A total of 17 parents of children (mean age, 5.9±2.8 years; 53% female; 47% preoperative polysomnography) with SDB participated in the interviews. The parents were asked to describe the process of detecting SDB and of accessing specialty care. Their responses were transcribed and coded, with codes then analyzed for thematic saturation.

The researchers reported 3 themes emerging from the interviews: barriers and facilitators to diagnosis, interactions with providers and the health care system, and care process logistics.

Facilitators to further diagnostic workup identified by parents included primary care provider knowledge and attitudes toward SDB (41%). Medicaid coverage was identified as a strong facilitator to care (59%). Barriers identified by parents involved difficulty obtaining a specialist referral or receiving dismissal of their concerns from a primary care provider. This led parents to seek second opinions or self-refer (53%).

The researchers conclude, “These in-depth interviews identify potential modifiable areas to target interventions for timely and equitable SDB care.”


Pecha PP, Jungbauer WN, Melvin C, Ford M. Parental experiences with access to care for obstructive sleep-disordered breathing: a qualitative study. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2022;167(1 suppl):P156.