Observational study identifies non-attendance characteristics in two hospital out-patient clinics
Emely Ek Blæhr; Rikke Søgaard; Thomas Kristensen; Ulla Væggemose
Introduction: Non-attended hospital appointments are receiving increasing attention in times when rapid access and efficient service delivery at public hospitals are on the agenda. The aim of this study was to investigate the extent of non-attendance in a Danish outpatient setting and its association with user-level and provider-level characteristics. Methods: The study was based on appointments scheduled from June 2013 to March 2015 at an orthopaedic and a radiologic outpatient clinic. Data on outcomes of cancellation on the part of the user or the provider, and non-attendance without giving notice were collected from administrative systems along with appointment characteristics. Logistic regression was used for statistical analysis. Results: Of the 54,987 and 31,538 appointments scheduled at the two departments, 4,524 (8%) and 5,479 (17%) were cancelled and 2,905 (5%) and 1,249 (4%) were unattended without notice. The latter was significantly associated with male gender, younger age and longer time since referral. Other characteristics were identified as significant, but differed between departments. Conclusion: There seems to be a potential for a targeted effort aiming to reduce non-attendance and thereby to improve the efficiency of Danish outpatient services. Future studies should investigate the effect of initiatives such as nudging and fines targeting the appointments that have the highest non-attendance rates. Funding: Danish Regions, the Danish Ministry of Health and the Central Denmark Region funded the study.