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.