Research Article|Articles in Press

Discrepancies Between Caregiver Reported Early Childhood Sleep Problems and Clinician Documentation and Referral

Published:February 07, 2023DOI:



      The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends routine sleep problem screenings during child well-visits. However, studies suggest a discrepancy between caregiver- and clinician-reported child sleep problems. The present study examines whether caregiver-reported child sleep problems (ie, habitual snoring, insomnia symptoms, poor sleep health) and clinician-documented child sleep problems and management are congruent.


      The sample included 170 caregiver-child dyads (child Mage = 3.3 years, range = 2–5 years; 56.5% girls; 64.1% Black, 20.0% non-Latinx White, and 4.1% Latinx; 86.5% maternal caregiver reporter). Caregivers’ questionnaire-based reports of habitual snoring, insomnia symptoms, and sleep health behaviors (nighttime electronics, caffeine intake, insufficient sleep) were compared with clinician documentation in the electronic health record.


      About 92.3% of children had at least 1 caregiver-reported sleep problem (66% insomnia symptoms, 64% electronics, 38% insufficient sleep, 21% caffeine, 17% snoring). In contrast, a substantially lower percent of children had a clinician documented sleep problem (20% overall; 10% insomnia symptoms, 7% electronics, 0% insufficient sleep, 3% caffeine, 4% snoring), sleep-related referral (1% overall; 0.6% Otolaryngology, 0.6% polysomnogram, 0% sleep clinic), or recommendation (12% overall; 8% insomnia symptoms, 4% electronics, 0% insufficient sleep, 1% caffeine).


      There is a vast discrepancy between caregiver-reported child sleep problems and clinician-documented sleep problems and management, with a higher proportion of caregiver reports. To benefit overall child health and well-being, future research and quality improvement initiatives should focus on enhancing screening tools and educational opportunities to improve clinician documentation and enhance family conversations about early childhood sleep problems.


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