Factors Associated With Nonattendance in a Nationwide Screening Program for Diabetic Retinopathy: A Register-Based Cohort Study

Diabetes Care. 2021 Nov 23;dc211380. doi: 10.2337/dc21-1380. Online ahead of print.


Objective: The aim of the study was to identify factors associated with nonattendance in a Danish nationwide screening program for diabetic retinopathy among people with type 2 diabetes.

Research design and methods: A retrospective observational study linking individual-level register data was performed. First, we compared characteristics of 156,878 people with type 2 diabetes divided into attenders and never-attenders on the basis of their screening history over a 6-year period. Second, we assessed 230,173 screening intervals within the same 6-year period. Mixed-effects models were used to investigate the effect of sociodemographic and health-related factors on the likelihood of having a nonattender interval (i.e., failing to attend screening within the recommended interval).

Results: A total of 42,068 (26.8%) people were identified as never-attenders, having no registered eye screening over a 6-year period. Compared with attenders, never-attenders were more frequently divorced/widowed, lived in the Capital Region of Denmark, and had poorer health. A total of 62,381 (27.1%) screening intervals were identified as nonattender intervals. Both sociodemographic and health-related factors were significantly associated with the likelihood of having a nonattender interval. The largest odds ratios for nonattendance were seen for mental illness, nonwestern descent, divorce, comorbidity, and place of residence.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that never- and nonattendance of screening for diabetic retinopathy are more common among people who are divorced/widowed and of poorer health. Additionally, nonattendance is more frequent among people of nonwestern decent. These population subgroups may benefit from targeted interventions aimed at increasing participation in diabetic retinopathy screening.