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Non-attendance at initial appointments is an important problem in outpatient settings and has consequences, such as decreased efficient use of resources and delayed attention to patients who attend their visits, and that compromises quality of care.
To identify and describe the characteristics of patients who do not attend the first appointment in an adult outpatient mental health center, located in Barcelona.
Retrospective study. The sample was made up from all patients who had a first appointment during 2014 in our outpatient mental health centre. Socio-demographic and clinical data (type of first appointment, reason for consultation, origin of derivation, priority, history of mental health problems) were described. The results were analyzed using the SPSS statistical package.
A total of 272 patients were included. Twenty-six per cent did not attend their first appointment; with mean age 39.75 years and 51.4% were male. Most frequent problems were anxiety (41.7%), depression (26.4%) and psycosis and behavioural problems (11.2%). The origin was primary care (83.3%), social services (4.2%) and emergencies (2.8%). Most of them were not preferent or urgent (86.1%). The 51.4% of non-attendees had history or psychiatric problems and 13.9% nowadays are patients of our mental health centre.
It is important to develop mechanisms that can reduce the incidence of first non-attended appointments. In our case, most of them are attended by primary care so we can establish better communication with our colleagues and try to contact to the patients prior to the date of the appointment.
Disclosure of interest
The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.
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