Association between wait time and behavioral health appointment attendance across patient characteristics

Psychol Serv. 2023 Nov;20(4):983-987. doi: 10.1037/ser0000768. Epub 2023 May 4.


Adequate access to behavioral health (BH) services is a critical issue. Many patients who are referred to BH care miss their appointments. One barrier to BH care is that longer wait times decrease the likelihood of appointment attendance. The present study examines the relationship between the wait time for BH services and appointment attendance, overall and by multiple patient characteristics. Logistic regression was performed to analyze the association between wait time and patient attendance for BH referrals made from March 1, 2016, to February 28, 2019, at an urban academic medical center. In total, 1,587 referrals were included. Most patients were female (72%) and of non-Hispanic/Latinx Black race (55%). Each additional week of waiting between the referral and scheduled appointment was associated with a 5% decrease in odds of attendance. In adjusted race/ethnicity-stratified analyses, Hispanic/Latinx patients had a 9% lower odds of attendance per week of waiting. Non-Hispanic/Latinx White and Black patients had a 5% lower odds of attendance per week of waiting. Patients with private insurance had a 7% lower odds of attendance per week of waiting, and patients with Medicare had a 6% lower odds of attendance per week of waiting. Limiting scheduling may improve BH care utilization by decreasing the rate of "no shows." (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Appointments and Schedules
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medicare*
  • United States
  • Waiting Lists*