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Failed appointments in an academic orthodontic clinic


Objective: To investigate the reasons for patients failing to keep appointments in the orthodontic department of a dental school and related circumstances.

Design: Retrospective single centre postal questionnaire.

Setting: University orthodontic department in Belfast, Northern Ireland, 1994.

Subjects: All 1995 patients failing to keep appointments during the first six months of 1994 (13.6% of total appointments).

Main Outcome Measures: The responses expressed as frequencies.

Results: Responses were received from 758 patients (37% male, 55% female). The most frequent reasons for failure to keep appointments were illness, other commitments and forgetfulness. Only half of the patients attempted to cancel the appointment. The majority of failures occurred when appointments were made for the preferred time of attendance. Keenness for treatment exceeded perception of the severity of malocclusion. Seven in ten patients were satisfied with their treatment, more than half thought that they were nearing the end of treatment and 21.2% would not be upset if their appliances were withdrawn.

Conclusions: Parents and patients should be aware of school commitments in advance of making appointments and an automated telephone reminder system should be introduced. The importance of cancelling appointments which cannot be fulfilled should be emphasised. Patients wearing retainers should be overbooked in a special clinical session


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Richardson, A. Failed appointments in an academic orthodontic clinic. Br Dent J 184, 612–615 (1998).

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