Knowledge, attitudes, and practice patterns of obstructive sleep apnea among speech-language pathologists

Emma S. Wallace, Ms Ankita Bhutada, William A. Broughton, Danny J. Eckert, Kendrea Garand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common sleep-related breathing disorder characterised by repeated narrowing and closure of the upper airway during sleep. Despite growing evidence that dysphagia is a frequent sequela of OSA, the role of speech-language pathologists (SLPs) in managing OSA remains unclear. The aim of this international study was to evaluate SLPs knowledge, attitudes, and experience of OSA. Methods: A validated questionnaire, OSA Knowledge and Attitudes (OSAKA), was distributed to SLPs internationally via an online survey. Additional information on demographics, educational history, and clinical practices was ascertained. Results: From a total of 1647 respondents, 822 clinicians from twenty-four countries were included in the final analysis. Knowledge of OSA among SLPs was limited; the mean (SD) rate of correct answers was 55% (22%). Over half of SLPs reported patients with OSA on their caseload, with the majority of patients referred for dysphagia services. Yet, only half of SLPs reported confidence in their ability to assess or manage dysphagia in patients with OSA. SLPs’ experience of OSA had an effect on their knowledge and attitudes [F (2, 817) = 17.279, p < 0.001]. Conclusions: SLPs are involved in the management of patients with OSA but are practising with limited knowledge and confidence. The findings highlight the need to increase OSA education and training for SLPs. In addition, there is a need for targeted research to increase the evidence base for development of clinical practice guidelines for dysphagia management in patients with OSA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1141-1152
Number of pages12
JournalSleep and Breathing
Issue number3
Early online date29 Sep 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2022


  • Model of care
  • Sleep-disordered breathing
  • Speech pathology
  • Swallowing
  • Upper airway


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