Background: Non-attendance in general practice has received increasing attention over the past few years. Its relationship with access to health care has been recognized and is of particular relevance in light of the access targets set out in the NHS Plan.
Methods: The literature was searched for articles relating to non-attendance. Titles and abstracts were examined, and relevant articles obtained. Bibliographies were examined for further references. Articles that described interventions for reducing non-attendance that were comparative studies and that examined general appointments, as opposed to appointments for screening purposes for example, were of particular interest.
Results and conclusions: The epidemiology of non-attendance has been well described, but there is little work on the reasons for non-attendance. Evidence for effective interventions to improve attendance in primary care is lacking, and this may prove to be an area of research interest in the future. As well as specific interventions to reduce non-attendance, new approaches to health care access are required in order to tackle this issue.