Reasons for new referral non-attendance at a pediatric dermatology center: a telephone survey

J Dermatolog Treat. 2005 Apr;16(2):113-6. doi: 10.1080/09546630510027877.


Background: Non-attendance at pediatric dermatology outpatient clinics is a significant problem.

Aim: To determine the reasons and predictors for non-attendance.

Methods: New referral non-attenders to the pediatric dermatology clinic of a university teaching hospital were contacted by telephone and reasons for non-attendance enquired about.

Results: Sixty-three patients (20%) did not attend the first appointment over a 15-month study period. The mean+/-SD waiting time between attenders and non-attenders was 99+/-46 days and 113+/-41 days (p=0.029). A total of 49% of attenders and 60% of non-attenders were males. Telephone contact of non-attenders who did not schedule any re-appointment spontaneously (n=54), found that the mother was the informant in 85% of cases. Approximately 80% of informants gave one reason for non-attendance; approximately 20% gave two or more reasons. The most common reasons for non-attendance were 'skin condition already improved' (46%) and 'forgot appointment' (25%). 'Long waiting time' did not appear to be a common reason for non-attendance. There was no significant association between age of patient, urgency of booking and non-attendance.

Conclusions: We confirm that there is a significant non-attendance rate in pediatric dermatology new referrals. Many of the skin conditions reportedly resolve spontaneously. As there is no identifiable predictor for non-attendance apart from a longer waiting time, any maneuvers or interventions to improve attendance rate are unlikely to be significantly fruitful.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Appointments and Schedules*
  • Child
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Outpatient Clinics, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Dropouts*
  • Pediatrics
  • Referral and Consultation*
  • Skin Diseases / therapy*
  • Telephone*
  • Utilization Review