Prevalence and Correlates of Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Urban-Dwelling, Low-Income, Predominantly African-American Women

Published in: Sleep Medicine (June 2020). doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2020.06.022

Posted on on August 04, 2020

by Lu Dong, Tamara Dubowitz, Ann C. Haas, Bonnie Ghosh-Dastidar, Stephanie Brooks Holliday, Daniel J. Buysse, Lauren Hale, Tiffany L. Gary-Webb, Wendy M. Troxel

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Study Objectives

The current study examined the prevalence and correlates of obstructive sleep apnea in a sample of low-income, predominantly African-American women using two waves of data.


Participants were adults from two urban neighborhoods who enrolled in the PHRESH Zzz Study (N = 828; Pittsburgh Hill/Homewood Research on Neighborhoods, Sleep, and Health). A subsample who reported never receiving OSA diagnosis completed home sleep apnea testing in 2016 (n = 269, mean age 55.0 years, 79.6% female) and again in 2018 (n = 135). Correlates of OSA tested included demographic and anthropometric variables, health behavior/conditions, psychological distress and general health, smoking status, actigraphy-measured sleep, and neighborhood factors measured at baseline.


18.0% of all 2016 participants reported receiving physician diagnoses of OSA. Among those  ≥ 15 and 33.8% had AHI ≥ 5 plus one or more sleep symptoms. Estimates of the prevalence of OSA in all 2016 participants were 33.8% to 45.7% based on physician diagnoses and AHI results, depending on the criteria used. Age, gender, BMI, blood pressure, habitual snoring, neighborhood walkability, actigraphy-measured sleep characteristics, and smoking were concurrently associated with OSA in 2016. Changes in AHI categories from 2016 to 2018 were documented.


Low-income African Americans, including women, are a high-risk group for OSA, but remain under-diagnosed and under-treated. The current findings show a high prevalence of OSA in African-American women and are among the first to demonstrate that both individual and neighborhood factors are implicated in OSA prevalence.

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