Date of Award

January 2023

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)


Yale University School of Nursing

First Advisor

Joanne D. Iennaco


Background: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) affects approximately 1 billion people globally and is highly prevalent in psychiatric patient populations. Comorbid OSA can worsen psychiatric symptoms and increase suicide risk. Despite calls for OSA screening in psychiatric patient populations, it is currently underrecognized in mental health settings.

Objective: A protocol was created for OSA screening and sleep specialist referral for individuals seeking medication management services at a community mental health center.

Methods: Using the STOP-Bang questionnaire, a well-validated screening tool for OSA, individuals with positive screenings for OSA risk were referred to a sleep specialist during a 10-week implementation period.

Results: Prior to implementation, no screenings and two sleep specialist referrals were identified by medical record review. Among 149 individuals screened, 103 had positive screenings, indicating moderate or high risk for OSA, similar to the expected population prevalence. A total of 65 individuals accepted referral to a sleep specialist.

Discussion and conclusion: Results suggest the protocol is feasible and sustainable and that adequate screening will uncover high rates of undiagnosed OSA in psychiatric patient populations, potentially resolving many complaints of sleep disturbance. This DNP Project protocol provides an easily accessible means for OSA screening and sleep specialist referral in psychiatric patient populations.


This is an Open Access Thesis.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access