Telephone reminders improve adolescent clinic attendance: a randomized controlled trial

J Paediatr Child Health. 2002 Feb;38(1):79-83. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1754.2002.00766.x.


Objectives: To measure the effect of telephone reminders on adolescent clinic attendance.

Methods: Clinic bookings of adolescents were randomly assigned to either a telephone reminder one day prior to their appointment, or a routine booking (no reminder). The setting was four general adolescent health clinics within a tertiary public adolescent health care service at the Centre for Adolescent Health. The main outcome measures were clinic non-attendance, reason for non-attendance, and satisfaction with the booking system.

Results: One hundred and seventy one adolescent appointments were studied. Of these, 51.5% were female, and 25% of bookings were for new, rather than review appointments. One hundred and one adolescents were randomly allocated to the reminder group, of whom 87% were contacted. The use of reminders (intention to treat analysis) significantly reduced the non-attendance rate from 20% to 8% (odds ratio 0.35; P = 0.03). Non-attendance was three times more likely for a new appointment than for review appointments. 'Forgetting' was the most common explanation given by patients (35%) who did not attend. Seventy-nine per cent of parents reported telephone reminders were helpful at prompting attendance.

Conclusion: Telephone reminders greatly improved attendance at these adolescent clinics. The background non-attendance rate and the proportion of high-risk patients for non-attendance (new appointments in this setting) will determine whether reminders are more efficiently targeted at specific bookings than used routinely.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Appointments and Schedules*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reminder Systems*
  • Telephone*
  • Victoria