Which older adults receive sleep medicine specialty care? Predictors of being seen by a board-certified sleep medicine provider

Emerson M. Wickwire*, Sophia L. Jobe, Sairam Parthasarathy, Jacob Collen, Vincent F. Capaldi, Abree Johnson, Aparna Vadlamani, John M. Levri, Steven M. Scharf, Jennifer S. Albrecht

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Study Objectives: The aim of this study was to characterize older adult Medicare beneficiaries seen by board-certified sleep medicine providers (BCSMPs) and identify predictors of being seen by a BCSMP. Methods: Our data source was a random 5% sample of Medicare administrative claims data (2006–2013). BCSMPs were identified using a cross-matching procedure based on national provider identifiers available within the Medicare database and assigned based on the first sleep disorder diagnosis received. Sleep disorders (insomnia, sleep-related breathing disorders, hypersomnias, circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders, parasomnias, and restless legs syndrome) were operationalized as International Classification of Disease, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification diagnostic codes. The number of sleep disorders per beneficiary was computed and compared between BCSMPs and nonspecialists. Logistic regression was used to identify medical and demographic predictors of being seen by a BCSMP. Results: A total of 57,209 beneficiaries received one or more sleep disorder diagnoses during the study period. Of these, 1,279 (2.2%) were initially diagnosed by a BCSMP. Relative to individuals seen by nonspecialists, beneficiaries treated by a BCSMP were more likely to have two or more sleep disorders (9.0% vs 24.1%, P < .001). The most common diagnosis assigned by BCSMPs was obstructive sleep apnea (70.4% of patients seen by BCSMPs were diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea). The most common diagnosis assigned by nonspecialists was insomnia (48.2% of patients seen by nonspecialists were diagnosed with insomnia). In a fully adjusted regression model, male sex (odds ratio [OR] 1.53; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.36, 1.72), asthma (OR 1.50; 95% CI 1.30, 1.73), and heart failure (OR 1.24; 95% CI 1.10, 1.41) were positively associated with being treated by a BCSMP. Conversely, depression (OR 0.85, 95% CI 0.73, 1.00), anxiety (OR 0.69, 95% CI .59, .82), Alzheimer and related dementias (OR 0.80, 95% CI .65, .99), and anemia (OR .88, 95% CI .78, .99) were associated with a reduced likelihood of being seen by a BCSMP. Conclusions: Relative to older adults seen by nonspecialists, those seen by BCSMPs are more medically but less psychiatrically complex and are diagnosed with a greater number of sleep disorders. These results suggest the possibility that medically complex patients are referred for specialty care, whereas psychiatrically complex patients might be seen at the nonspecialist level. Further, these results demonstrate the value of board certification in sleep medicine in caring for complex sleep patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1909-1915
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Sleep Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - 15 Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Board certification
  • Health services
  • Medicare
  • Older adults
  • Sleep
  • Sleep medicine


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