Missed Initial Medical Visits: Predictors, Timing, and Implications for Retention in HIV Care

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Abstract

HIV disproportionately affects racial/ethnic minorities and individuals living in the southern United States, and missed clinic visits account for much of this disparity. We sought to evaluate: (1) predictors of missed initial HIV medical visits, (2) time to initial visit, and (3) the association between initial visit attendance and retention in HIV care. Chart reviews were conducted for 200 consecutive HIV-infected patients (100 in Dallas, 100 in San Antonio) completing case management (CM) intake. Of these, 52 (26%) missed their initial visit, with 22 (11%) never presenting for care. Mean age was 40 years, 85% were men, >70% were of minority race/ethnicity, and 28% had a new HIV diagnosis. Unemployment (OR [95% CI] = 2.33 [1.04-5.24], p = 0.04) and lower attendance of CM visits (OR = 3.08 [1.43-6.66], p = 0.004) were associated with missing the initial medical visit. A shorter time to visit completion was associated with CD4 ≤ 200 (HR 1.90 [1.25-2.88], p = 0.003), Dallas study site (HR = 1.48 [1.03-2.14], p = 0.04), and recent hospitalization (HR = 2.18 [1.38-3.43], p < 0.001). Patients who did not complete their initial medical visit within 90 days of intake were unlikely to engage in care. Initial medical visit attendance was associated with higher proportion of visits attended (p = 0.04) and fewer gaps in care (p = 0.01). Missed medical visits were common among HIV patients initiating or reinitiating care in Texas. Employment and CM involvement predicted initial medical visit attendance, which was associated with retention in care. New, early engagement strategies are needed to decrease missed visits and reduce HIV health disparities.

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