Background: Frequent missed patient appointments in resident continuity clinic is a well-documented problem, but whether rates of missed appointments are disproportionate to standard academic practice, what patient factors contribute to these differences, and health care outcomes of patients who frequently miss appointments are unclear.
Methods: The overall population for the study was composed of patients in an academic internal medicine continuity clinic with 5 or more office visits between January 2006 and December 2008. We randomly selected 325 patients seen by resident physicians and 325 patients cared for by faculty. Multivariate linear regression was used to examine the relationship between patient factors and missed appointments. Health outcomes were compared between patients with frequent missed appointments and the remainder of the study sample, using Cox regression analysis.
Results: Resident patients demonstrated significantly higher rates of missed appointments than faculty patients, but this difference was explained by patient factors. Factors associated with more missed appointments included use of a medical interpreter, Medicaid insurance, more frequent emergency department visits, less time impanelled in the practice, and lower proportion of office visits with the primary care provider. Patients with frequent missed appointments were less likely to be up to date with preventive health services and more likely to have poorly controlled blood pressure and diabetes.
Conclusions: We found that the disproportionate frequency of missed appointments in resident continuity clinic is explained by patient factors and practice discontinuity, and that patients with frequent missed appointments demonstrated worse health care outcomes.