Objective: To assess the appointment conditions and characteristics of patients who miss their appointments ('no-shows'); this will aid in the formulation of intervention methods to reduce no-show rates.
Methods: During a one-month period, data on all no-shows at the general internal medicine outpatient clinic of the Geneva University Hospitals were collected. Control patients were matched for appointment time and gender. Patient and appointment characteristics were collated on 13 parameters, and these were compared between no-shows and controls.
Results: Two hundred and six of 1296 appointments were no-shows (15.8%). Compared with controls, no-shows were younger, born earlier in the year, more often were not Europeans, more often had a common language with the physician or translator (no communication problems), and more often had a follow-up (not first) appointment. Other parameters were not significant (appointment day of week and time of day, gender, residency status, insurance coverage, family physician, medical consequences, covert addiction).
Conclusions: The no-show rate was within the range for comparable settings. Several parameters associated with no-shows reflected specifics of a hospital-based adult outpatient clinic that mainly serves middle-to-low socio-economic classes and is a referral clinic for refugees in a middle-sized European city with a high percentage of foreigners with different backgrounds and languages. Planned interventions should consider local factors.