Raising awareness and implementing systematic tools to measure patient-focused outcomes can help those who responded to the 9/11 attacks, says Anna E. Mullins, PhD, assistant professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Mullins was the lead author of “Sleep Disorders and Chronic Rhinosinusitis in World Trade Center (WTC) Responders and a Sleep Clinic Population,” an abstract presented at the 2023 American Thoracic Society International Conference.


What should providers and health care systems be doing to raise awareness on how sleep conditions have manifested in WTC responders?

WTC responders, with respect to sleep disorders, such as for instance, sleep apnea, they present a little differently in that they tend to have lower [body mass index], they present with more insomnia symptoms or more of an insomnia phenotype, and then they have other comorbidities that affect their sleep such as gastrointestinal reflux disorder and chronic rhinosinusitis.

Based on your findings, what can health professionals do to improve the diagnosis, treatment, and management of chronic rhinosinusitis and sleep quality in WTC responders?

There needs to be raised awareness of the differing presentation of sleep disorders and the comorbidities and to foster increasing integrative care amongst many disciplines. What my colleagues have said would be useful is more systematic tools to capture patient-focused outcomes so that the things that are meaningful to the responders can be focused on and integrated into their care.

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