Document Type : Research Articles
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Lerner College of Medicine, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH, USA.
Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.
Introduction: The cancer burden in the Middle East is high and growing. Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second most common cancer for both men and women in the UAE. Although early diagnosis of malignancy reduces morbidity and increases the survival rates, non-attendance of gastroenterology (GI) endoscopic procedures is a significant global problem, which can lead to delay in cancer diagnosis and treatment. Several factors have been found to contribute to non-attendance behavior, including socioeconomic, cultural, and organizational related barriers. The purpose of this study was to identify factors contributing to non-attendance behavior among outpatients scheduled for GI endoscopic procedures in a tertiary hospital in the United Arab Emirates. We conclude with recommendations that can help in reducing the rate of patient no-shows for GI endoscopic procedures in the region. Methods: In a tertiary medical center in the Middle East, we surveyed patients who did not attend their scheduled GI endoscopic procedures over a period of one year. The questionnaire sought to identify possible reasons for patient’s non-attendance. Descriptive measures including means, standard deviation, frequencies, and percentages were used to analyze the demographic characteristics of the study participants. The chi-square test was performed to analyze gender differences. Results: Of 314 outpatients who met study inclusion criteria, 168 agreed to participate (53.5% response rate). The majority of participants were women (n=96, 60.4 %), aged 18 to 73, with a mean of 42 years. The largest age group was between 35 and 44 (n=46, 28.9 %). Approximately equal numbers of non-attendance appointments were scheduled for combined colonoscopy and upper endoscopy (36.3 %), colonoscopy alone (31.3 %), or upper endoscopy alone (31.3 %). The most common causes for cancellation or non-attendance included concerns about the appointment (35.5%), inconvenient timing of the appointment (27.9%) and changes in medical status (26.4%). Gender differences were noted for non-attendance behaviors, with women significantly more likely than men to report feelings of embarrassment (Chi-square 6.261, df=1, p=.012). Conclusion: Our study has identified several barriers to patient attendance of endoscopic procedures, as well as opportunities to reduce the rate of patient no-shows, including patient education, scheduling options, and protocols to minimize discomfort and misconceptions around GI endoscopic procedures, particularly accommodating for same gender endoscopists, with the ultimate goal of increasing early cancer screening and prevention.