Prevalence and Characteristics of Restless Legs Syndrome in Korean Adults: A Study in Two Independent Samples of the General Population

Tae Joon Kim, Jee Eun Yoon, Jung A. Park, Seung Ku Lee, Min Kyung Chu, Kwang Ik Yang, Won Joo Kim, Seong Ho Park, Robert J. Thomas, Chol Shin, Chang Ho Yun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a common sleep disorder, although it has a low prevalence in Asian populations. However, the reported RLS prevalence in -Korean adults is mostly 4.5-12.1%, which is higher than that reported in other Asian populations. This study aimed to diagnose RLS and exclude mimicking conditions in 2 independent samples of Korean adults, and to compare its prevalence to that from previous studies performed in Asian countries. Methods: Study populations included a (1) nationwide stratified random sample (n = 2,824; age 19-79 years) and (2) community-based cohort (n = 2,685; age 47-79 years). We applied the Cambridge-Hopkins diagnostic questionnaire to diagnose RLS and differentiate it from RLS mimics. Sleep-related symptoms, mood, and medical conditions were compared between the RLS and non-RLS groups. Prior studies of the RLS prevalence in Asia were systematically reviewed and compared to our findings. Results: The adjusted RLS prevalence was 0.4 and 1.3% in populations 1 and 2, respectively. In both populations, subjects with RLS had more depression. The prevalence of RLS mimics was 5.1 and 2.6%, in populations 1 and 2, respectively. The RLS prevalence in Asia was higher when RLS was defined by the presence of essential clinical features and lower when a differential diagnosis was additionally implemented. Conclusions: The RLS prevalence in Korean adults considering RLS mimics is comparable to that in adults from other Asian countries (< 2%). The reported RLS prevalence varies depending on the diagnostic method employed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-204
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jan 1


  • Cambridge-Hopkins diagnostic questionnaire
  • Epidemiology
  • Restless legs syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Clinical Neurology


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