Pretreatment dropout as a function of treatment delay and client variables

Addict Behav. 1995 Jan-Feb;20(1):111-5. doi: 10.1016/0306-4603(94)00052-z.


Utilizing a retrospective analysis we examined factors correlated with preintake dropout in patients phoning to make intake appointments for cocaine treatment. Inquiries of 235 individuals calling our outpatient cocaine treatment program over a 7-month period were analyzed for relationships between patient age and gender; residence in the city where the program is located; marital status; referral source; reported problems with alcohol, marijuana, and heroin; reported last use of cocaine or other illicit stimulants; assigned counselor gender; person who made the appointment; days to the intake appointment; and attending the scheduled intake session. Only days to appointment was significantly (Wald = 12.4587, df = 1, p < .05 and chi 2 = 17.7, df = 8, p < .05) correlated with attending the scheduled intake session. Appointments scheduled the same day differed significantly (chi 2 = 4.3, n = 235, df = 1, p < .05) from appointments scheduled later. This suggests that client and situational variables are not significantly related to initial attendance and enhances the significance of systemic variables that are under a clinic's control, such as appointment delay. The results indicate that the longer the delay between the initial phone contact and the scheduled appointment, the less likely a client is to attend an appointment. Further, they suggest that the greatest decrease in initial attendance occurs in the first 24 hours following the phone inquiry. Taking a "microscopic" look at the appointment delay variable is valuable in understanding and addressing preintake dropout.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Alcoholism / rehabilitation
  • Ambulatory Care
  • Cocaine*
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Heroin Dependence / psychology
  • Heroin Dependence / rehabilitation
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marijuana Abuse / psychology
  • Marijuana Abuse / rehabilitation
  • Motivation
  • New Jersey
  • Patient Dropouts / psychology*
  • Sex Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Urban Population
  • Waiting Lists*


  • Cocaine