REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is a parasomnia in which normal muscle atonia of REM sleep is lost. The aim of this study was to confirm if diagnostic delay exists in RBD and identify any contributing factors.
A database was compiled of 49 patients with RBD seen at a tertiary referral center from 2005 to 2011 by retrospective review of referral letters and polysomnographic (PSG) reports. Patients with comorbid narcolepsy were excluded. A questionnaire was sent to investigate diagnostic delay, management, and comorbidities.
Mean diagnostic delay was 8.7 ± 11 (median 4.5, IQR 1.75–11.75) years in 30 questionnaire responders. Common reasons for diagnostic delay included belief that symptoms were not serious enough to consult a doctor (59%), mild or infrequent occurrence of sleep behavior (56%), belief that symptoms may resolve (47%), and lack of knowledge of treatment options (47%). The bed partner was an important influence, with the decision to seek medical attention being made jointly by the patient and partner in 47%.
This study has demonstrated the existence of significant diagnostic delay in RBD, mainly due to lack of understanding of the disorder and its treatment by patients and members of the medical profession.
White C; Hill EA; Morrison I; Riha RL. Diagnostic delay in REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD). J Clin Sleep Med 2012;8(2):133-136.