Improving patient attendance at medical follow-up visits may have a notable impact on disease and overall health outcomes. Understanding factors contributing to poor attendance is important for identifying at-risk patients and designing interventions to improve clinical outcomes. Our objective was to identify personality and illness perception factors associated with attendance at recommended follow-up visits in a neuro-ophthalmology practice.
New or established patients (≥18 years) with scheduled neuro-ophthalmology (study) or glaucoma (comparison) appointments at a tertiary care academic medical center completed the Brief Illness Perception Questionnaire and Ten-Item Personality Inventory. Physician recommendations made during the visit were recorded (medications, referrals, follow-up, testing, and procedures). A chart review was performed 18 months after enrollment to assess attendance at follow-up appointment and adherence with other physician recommendations. Multiple variable logistic regression models studied associations between follow-up appointment attendance and demographic factors, appointment factors, and survey responses.
Among 152 respondents (97% response rate (152 of 157), aged 19-97 years, 58% female, 34% new, 80 neuro-ophthalmology, 72 glaucoma), neuro-ophthalmology subjects were younger, more likely to be White, non-Hispanic, female and new to the practice than subjects with glaucoma. They reported higher emotional impact, identity, and consequences related to their illness (P = 0.001-0.03). Neuro-ophthalmology physician recommendations included more referrals to other services (17.5% vs 1.4%, P = 0.001, chi-square) and more radiology studies (15% vs 0%, P = 0.001, chi-square), but fewer follow-up visits (75% vs 97%, P < 0.0005, chi-square). Among those with recommended follow-up visits, neuro-ophthalmology subjects had lower rates of on-time appointment attendance (55% vs 77%, P = 0.009, chi-square). In a multiple variable model, on-time follow-up attendance was associated with shorter recommended follow-up interval (≤90 days, P < 0.0005), established (vs new) patient status at enrollment visit (P = 0.04), and glaucoma (P = 0.08), but not subject demographics, illness perception, or personality factors.
Patient demographics, illness perception, and personality traits were not associated with follow-up appointment attendance and therefore unlikely to be useful for identifying patients at risk of being lost to follow-up. New neuro-ophthalmology patients with a follow-up recommended ≥90 days in advance may benefit from targeted interventions to improve follow-up appointment adherence.

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