Failure to attend appointments and loss to follow-up: a prospective study of patients with malignant lymphoma in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
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Failure to attend medical appointments (No Show) and loss to follow-up (LTFU) among patients with cancer can adversely affect their treatment and eventual outcome. In a 3-year prospective study of 199 patients with malignant lymphoma, all of those with No Shows were contacted, and reasons given for No Shows were categorized. Of the 340 No Shows, 34.1% were due to hospital-based communication problems, 17.6% to errors in patient communication with the hospital, 7.4% to transportation problems and 16.5% to other personal reasons. Almost one quarter (24.4%) of the patients were not contactable. Reasons for No Show in all categories were instructive as to patients' attitudes to treatment. Nineteen (12.2%) of the 156 patients who had not died in the 3-year follow-up period were identified as LTFU. These 19 LTFU patients accounted for 77 (22.6%) of all No Shows. The data indicate that LTFU in this cohort is significantly less frequent than in a prior cohort followed up for 3 years from 1997 to 1998. These findings suggest that some causes of No Show can be addressed, and individuals are identified as at particular risk for No Show and ultimately LTFU. This study points out that pre-emptive strategies to reduce No Shows may be feasible and efficacious.
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