We aimed to determine the patient and screening-level factors that are associated with non-attendance in the Irish National Diabetic Retinal screening programme (Diabetic RetinaScreen). To accomplish this, we modelled a selection of predictors derived from the historical screening records of patients with diabetes.
In this cohort study, appointment data from the national diabetic retinopathy screening programme (RetinaScreen) were extracted and augmented using publicly available meteorological and geospatial data. A total of 653,969 appointments from 158,655 patients were included for analysis. Mixed-effects models (univariable and multivariable) were used to estimate the influence of several variables on non-attendance to screening appointments.
All variables considered for analysis were statistically significant. Variables of note, with meaningful effect, were age (OR: 1.23 per decade away from 70; 95% CI: [1.22-1.24]), type 2 diabetes (OR: 1.10; 95% CI: [1.06-1.14]) and socio-economic deprivation (OR: 1.12; 95% CI: [1.09-1.16]). A majority (52%) of missed appointments were from patients who had missed three or more appointments.
This study is the first to outline factors that are associated with non-attendance within the Irish national diabetic retinopathy screening service. In particular, when corrected for age and other factors, patients with type 2 diabetes had higher rates of non-attendance. Additionally, this is the first study of any diabetic screening programme to demonstrate that weather may influence attendance. This research provides unique insight to guide the implementation of an optimal and cost-effective intervention strategy to improve attendance.