Patients who do not attend ('DNA') health appointments have been identified as a service problem incurring significant costs to the NHS. In order to explore the causes, effects and costs of child DNAs, we carried out a scoping study to map the literature and identify gaps in the research. Given the breadth of issues underpinning DNAs, a scoping study, including research studies, audits, policy documents and conference abstracts, was the most useful way to map the field. To foster public and patient participation, we sought advice from parents participating in the National Children's Bureau's Family Research Advisory Group. From a pool of 1997 items, we found few UK studies with non-attendance of 0-10 year olds as a primary focus, though many more incidentally reported DNA rates. Overall, four topics predominated: the conceptualization of DNAs; the correlates of non-attendance; initiatives to reduce non-attendance; and the relationship between non-attendance and safeguarding. The Family Research Advisory Group identified broadly similar issues, but with a stronger emphasis on communication and practical matters. While there may be circumstances where failing to attend appointments makes little or no difference to a child (or even benefits them) it is likely that there are children whose health or well-being are compromised as a result of failing to attend appointments. Both 'over' and 'under'-attendance can be a source of anxiety to health professionals. Areas where further work is needed include robust evaluation of the effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and maintenance of measures to reduce DNAs and a better understanding of the relationship of safeguarding to non-attendance.
Keywords: 0-10; DNAs; UK; appointment; scoping; ‘Did not attend’.
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.