The first goal of this Nebraska-based study was to determine physician reporting of patient complaints about sleep. The second goal was to determine the patterns of referral to sleep disorders laboratories by geographic location and specialty practice. A total of 299 Nebraska physicians (177 in urban areas and 122 in rural areas) completed a questionnaire concerning sleep complaints among patients. We found no statistically significant differences between urban and rural physicians in the percentage of patients reporting insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, snoring, or other sleep complaints. Psychiatrists reported on significantly more patients with insomnia and excessive daytime sleepiness than did other physicians; however, they tended to refer fewer patients to sleep disorders laboratories than did physicians practicing internal medicine. Urban physicians referred significantly more patients to sleep disorders laboratories than did rural physicians. We concluded that physician reporting of patient complaints about sleep is similar in urban and rural areas of Nebraska. However, physicians in rural areas tend to refer fewer patients to sleep disorders laboratories than do physicians in urban communities.
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