Characteristics of children who do not attend their hospital appointments, and GPs’ response: a mixed methods study in primary and secondary care.

Authors: French LR, Turner KM, Morley H, Goldsworthy L, Sharp DJ, Hamilton-Shield J


Br J Gen Pract. 2017 Jun 19;:

BACKGROUND: Children who do not attend (DNA) their hospital outpatient appointments are a concern because this potentially compromises the child's health and incurs financial cost. Little is known about children who DNA or the views of GPs to non-attendance.
AIM: To describe the characteristics of children who DNA hospital paediatric outpatient appointments, and explore how GPs view and respond to DNAs.
DESIGN AND SETTING: A mixed methods study of data from all new referrals to a children's hospital in the South West of England between 1 September and 31 October 2012.
METHOD: Data were extracted from patients' hospital and GP records, and Stata was used to analyse the data quantitatively. Analysis focused on describing the characteristics of children who DNA, and the process of care that followed. Practices that had either the highest or lowest number of DNAs were purposefully sampled for GPs who had referred children to secondary care at the study hospital within the previous year. Interviews were held between May 2014 and July 2015, and were analysed thematically.
RESULTS: Children who DNA are more likely to be from an area of greater deprivation (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 1.02, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.00 to 1.02, P = 0.04), and with a child protection alert in their hospital notes (AOR 2.72, 95% CI = 1.26 to 5.88, P = 0.01). Non-attendance is communicated poorly to GPs, rarely coded in patients' GP records, and few GP practices have a formal policy regarding paediatric DNAs.
CONCLUSION: Non-attendance at hospital outpatient appointments may indicate a child's welfare is at risk. Communication between primary and secondary care needs to be improved, and guidelines developed to encourage GPs to monitor children who DNA.



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