Diagnoses and other predictors of patient absenteeism in an outpatient neurology clinic

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We sought to determine the neurologic diagnosis or diagnostic categories that are associated with a higher probability of honoring a scheduled follow-up visit in the outpatient clinic.


We conducted a retrospective analysis of patients evaluated over a 3-year period (July 2014–June 2017) at a single neurology clinic in an urban location. Adult patients who honored an initial scheduled outpatient appointment were included. Only diagnoses with a ≥0.5% prevalence at our center were analyzed. Mixed-effects logistic regression was used to determine association of independent variables and honored follow-up visits.


Of 61,232 scheduled outpatient subsequent encounters for 20,729 unique patients, the overall absenteeism rate was 12.5% (95% confidence interval [CI] 12.2%–12.8%). Independent risk factors associated with absenteeism included younger age, black or Latino race/ethnicity, Medicaid/Medicare payor status, and longer delay from appointment scheduling to appointment date. In mixed-effects logistic regression, diagnoses associated with the lowest odds of showing were medication overuse headache (show rate 79.2%, odds ratio [OR] for honoring appointment 0.67, 95% CI 0.48–0.93) and depression (rate 85.9%, OR 0.82, 95% CI 0.70–0.97), whereas the diagnoses associated with the greatest odds of showing included Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (rate 96.3%, OR 2.54, 95% CI 1.44–4.49) and aphasia (rate 95.9%, OR 2.34, 95% CI 1.28–4.30).


Certain chronic neurologic diseases, such as medication overuse headache and depression, were associated with a significantly lower odds of honoring scheduled follow-up conditions. As these conditions influence quality of life and productivity, patients with these illnesses may benefit from selective targeting to encourage adherence with scheduled follow-up appointments.

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