Background: Failure to keep an appointment not only affects the patient's health care, but also has an impact on the effectiveness and productivity of the medical facility. This study explored patient demographic factors associated with appointment keeping.
Methods: In a Midwestern, urban family practice residency clinic serving 2500 patient visits each month, data were obtained from the computer scheduling system and chart audits for 4669 patients who kept or missed 7283 physician appointments between April and June 1991. Independent variables studied were age, race and ethnicity, type of health insurance, marital status, sex, patient status, day and time of appointment, medical reason for the visit, and geographic proximity to the clinic.
Results: The kept-appointment rate for this study was 73.9%. Appointment keeping was associated with age, race and ethnicity, type of health insurance, the day of the appointment, the medical reason for the visit, and geographic proximity to the clinic. Rates of appointment keeping were higher for patients who were older, who were Asian or white, who had private or managed care insurance, who had longer distances to travel to the clinic, and those who had appointments scheduled for the day on which they contacted the clinic.
Conclusions: Several identifiable factors significantly affect whether a patient will keep a clinic appointment. Our findings should be considered in program changes in appointment scheduling and follow-up methods for noncompliant patients.