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Patient Health Status and Appointment Keeping in an Urban Community Health Center

This study examines the relationship between patient health status and the likelihood of missing appointments in a community health center serving low-income patients. Medical records of 465 adult patients scheduled to be seen during one week in February 1999 were audited for an 18-month period. Seventy-three percent of patients failed to keep one or more appointments; 43% missed one or two; 30% missed three or more. Health status measures significantly associated with missing appointments included depression (p = 0.03), anxiety/panic disorder (p = 0.03), and using tobacco (p = <0.001). Linear regression analysis indicated that the number of appointments scheduled and of diagnosed psychological conditions, as well as patient age were significant predictors of missed appointments. Patient appointment keeping is predictable; definable, measurable characteristics of patients can contribute to setting priorities for customizing interventions.

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