Below is our comment on the review. I have some other thoughts on comparative effectiveness and I will be back with those over the Thanksgiving holiday.
The American Sleep Apnea Association (AASA) thanks the Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ) for undertaking a Comparative Effectiveness Review (CER) of diagnostic and treatment modalities for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) in adults.
Given the prevalence of the condition and the health consequences associated with leaving the condition untreated and its progressive nature, it is appropriate that an analysis be done to determine the relative effectiveness of various diagnostic tools and treatment options.
The ASAA is encouraged by the attention that has been given to sleep apnea and the recognition that the questions addressed by this review are important for the public health. It is unfortunate that, at the present time, so many of the answers are not supported by clear data, and that the AHRQ report finds most of the key questions to have low or insufficient evidence to answer. These results should be used to encourage obtaining data, and not be interpreted as there being no answer or that the question is not important.
Those preparing the review indicated a significant lack of clinical outcome data to support anything but “all cause mortality” in the patients with the severest forms of the condition. Issues such as improvement in quality of life or neuro-cognitive functioning, both very important outcomes, are supported by little evidence.
Both with respect to Positive Air Pressure (PAP) and Mandibular Advancement Devices (MAD) there was an insufficiency of evidence to address, which patients might benefit most from treatment.
The insufficiency of the evidence extends to evaluating the comparative effectiveness, the purpose of the study of the three different treatment modalities – PAP, MAD and surgery.
Despite these negative results there is confirmation of certain aspects of OSA diagnosis and treatment –
· Type III and IV “limited” channel studies are generally accurate to diagnose OSA;
· An Apnea Hypopnea Index (AHI) greater than 30 events/hr is an independent predictor of all cause mortality;
· Given the large magnitude of effect on the important immediate outcomes, such as AHI there is moderate evidence to show that PAP is an effective treatment for OSA,
· The same is true of MAD with respect to OSA in patients without co morbidities or excessive sleepiness.The ASAA agrees with the conclusions of the CER that additional research needs to be done if the benefits of treatment using the various therapies are to be fully understood.
Given the prevalence and the health-related consequences of untreated OSA, financial resources available through the National Institutes of Health should be committed to address the future research conclusions listed in the report.