Why we don't come: Patient perceptions on no-shows

Naomi L. Lacy, Audrey Paulman, Matthew D. Reuter, Bruce Lovejoy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

279 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: Patients who schedule clinic appointments and fail to keep them have a negative impact on the workflow of a clinic in many ways. This study was conducted to identify the reasons patients in an urban family practice setting give for not keeping scheduled appointments. METHODS: Semistructured interviews were conducted with 34 adult patients coming to the clinic for outpatient care. Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. A multidisciplinary team used an immersion-crystallization organizing style to analyze the content of the qualitative interviews individually and in team meetings. RESULTS: Participants identified 3 types of issues related to missing appointments without notifying the clinic staff: emotions, perceived disrespect, and not understanding the scheduling system. Although they discussed logistical issues of appointment keeping, participants did not identify these issues as key reasons for nonattendance. Appointment making among these participants was driven by immediate symptoms and a desire for self-care. At the same time, many of these participants experienced anticipatory fear and anxiety about both procedures and bad news. Participants did not feel obligated to keep a scheduled appointment in part because they felt disrespected by the health care system. The effect of this feeling was compounded by participants' lack of understanding of the scheduling system. CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study suggest that reducing no-show rates among patients who sometimes attend might be addressed by reviewing waiting times and participants' perspectives of personal respect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)541-545
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of family medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2004


  • Attendance
  • Family practice
  • Office visits, no-shows
  • Patient compliance
  • Patient satisfaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


Dive into the research topics of 'Why we don't come: Patient perceptions on no-shows'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this