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J R Soc Med. 1995 February; 88(2): 88–90.
PMCID: PMC1295102

Factors affecting non-attendance in an ophthalmic outpatient department.


The object of the study was to establish the non-attendance rates in an ophthalmic outpatient department and any non-attendance patterns that may be useful in managing future outpatient resources. A detailed retrospective survey of monthly non-attendance rates was carried out in the outpatient department of a dedicated eye hospital over a 1 year period looking at differences in non-attendance between morning and afternoon clinics and new and review patients. A total of 43,004 scheduled outpatient appointments predominantly from the suburban population of the Merseyside region were made at St Paul's Eye Hospital from the 1 February 1990 to 31 January 1991. Five thousand four hundred and twenty-four appointments were missed giving an overall non-attendance rate of 12.6%. Non-attendance rates for morning and afternoon appointments were 12.0% and 13.0%, respectively: and for new and review patients, 11.9% and 12.8%, respectively. Logistic regression analysis showed that patients with afternoon appointments were on average 1.10 times more likely to non-attend than morning patients (P = 0.002), and that review patients were 1.09 times more likely to non-attend than new patients (P = 0.04). In order to maximize outpatient department efficiency, a reduction in non-attendance is essential. Establishing patterns for non-attendance provides us with a framework around which we can plan measures to compensate for outpatient non-attendance.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Carpenter PJ, Morrow GR, Del Gaudio AC, Ritzler BA. Who keeps the first outpatient appointment? Am J Psychiatry. 1981 Jan;138(1):102–105. [PubMed]
  • Davies P. Why don't patients turn up? Health Soc Serv J. 1984 Jul 26;94(4907):886–887. [PubMed]
  • Leese AM, Wilson JA, Murray JA. A survey of the non-attendance rate at the ENT clinic of a district general hospital. Clin Otolaryngol Allied Sci. 1986 Feb;11(1):37–40. [PubMed]
  • Dickey W, Morrow JI. Can outpatient non-attendance be predicted from the referral letter? An audit of default at neurology clinics. J R Soc Med. 1991 Nov;84(11):662–663. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Frankel S, Farrow A, West R. Non-attendance or non-invitation? A case-control study of failed outpatient appointments. BMJ. 1989 May 20;298(6684):1343–1345. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Emmanuel J, Walter N. Referrals from general practice to hospital outpatient departments: a strategy for improvement. BMJ. 1989 Sep 16;299(6701):722–724. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Crombie IK, Davies HT. Audit of outpatients: entering the loop. BMJ. 1991 Jun 15;302(6790):1437–1439. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

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