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Timely encouraging letters increase attendance at first consultations at outpatient psychiatric clinics

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QUESTION

Question:

Does an encouraging letter reduce non-attendance for first-time consultations at psychiatric outpatient clinics?

Patients:

764 adults scheduled to attend their first appointment at a psychiatric outpatient clinic.

Setting:

Seven inner-city outpatient clinics, Leeds, UK; recruitment May 2003 to July 2004.

Intervention:

“Orientation statement” letter or standard care. The brief individualised letter was delivered 1–2 days before the scheduled appointment. It was based on a proforma and gave details about the appointment (time, name of doctor, description of clinic and appointment routine, map for finding clinic and request to bring a family member and any medication). Both groups received standard care, including an appointment card for the clinic within the following 13 weeks.

Outcomes:

Primary outcome: non-attendance at first appointment. Secondary outcomes …

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