OBJECTIVE--Firstly to compare the proportion of patients defaulting from follow up at a genitourinary medicine clinic with those attending other hospital based clinics. Secondly to determine which factors are associated with non attendance at a city centre genitourinary medicine clinic. METHODOLOGY--The proportion of patients who defaulted at a genitourinary medicine clinic, a general medical clinic, a general surgical clinic and a dermatology clinic during March 1995 were compared. A multivariate logistic regression analysis was performed comparing attenders and non attenders at the genitourinary medicine clinic with respect to time of appointment, diagnosis, previous contacts with clinic staff, potential domestic commitments and patient demographics in a prospective case control study. RESULTS--The default rate at the genitourinary medicine clinic was 15% compared with 13%, 15% and 14% for medical, surgical and dermatology clinics respectively. Patients who defaulted from the genitourinary medicine clinic (167) were compared with 172 attenders and significant differences found for timing of appointments, area of residence, frequency of counselling by the health advisor and age of the patient. Other factors such as the diagnosis, whether a woman had children, sexual orientation, whether negative results had been given over the phone, source of referral, sex of patient, employment status and the weather were not found to be significantly associated with defaulting from an appointment. CONCLUSIONS--The time of the appointment and being seen by a health advisor were the only variables identified over which the clinic has control and therefore could potentially reduce non attendance rates.
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