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Predictors of clinic non-attendance: opportunities to improve patient outcomes in colorectal cancer

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Abstract Aim:

Colorectal cancer is one of the few tumour types, where routine patient follow up has been demonstrated to impact significantly on survival. Patients who fail to attend regular clinic reviews may compromise their outcome, but the frequency at which this occurs is unknown. Identifying the extent of this problem, and the factors that predict non-attendance, may provide opportunities to improve patient outcomes. Methods:

Utilizing the Australian Comprehensive Cancer Outcomes and Research Database (ACCORD) colorectal database at Royal Melbourne and Western Hospitals and the Hospital Patient Management System (HOMER) we collected attendance data for colorectal surgical and oncology outpatient clinic appointments. Results:

A total of 619 patients (368 men and 251 women) with curatively treated Australian ClinicoPathological Staging System (ACPS) Stage A, B and C colorectal cancer was identified from the two sites over 1988–2008. Twenty-one per cent (n= 130) of patients failed to attend one or more appointments. Patients who failed to attend were more likely to require the services of an interpreter (25% vs 18%; P= 0.007), to have a smoking history and to have not received adjuvant therapy. Tumour site, patient age, sex and comorbidities were not associated with non-attendance. Conclusion:

A significant percentage of patients fail to attend routine clinic visits to colorectal speciality clinics. Patients at risk of non-attendance can be identified. More research is needed to identify barriers as to why patients do not attend appointments and to develop measures that may improve patient attendance.
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Keywords: colorectal cancer; surveillance

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Colorectal Surgery, Royal Melbourne Hospital, 2: Department of Colorectal Surgery, Western Hospital, and 3: Department of Medical Oncology, Royal Melbourne and Western Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Publication date: 2010-11-01

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