Factors Associated With Missed and Cancelled Colonoscopy Appointments at Veterans Health Administration Facilities

Melissa R. Partin, Amy Gravely, Ziad F. Gellad, Sean Nugent, James F. Burgess, Aasma Shaukat, David B. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: Cancelled and missed colonoscopy appointments waste resources, increase colonoscopy delays, and can adversely affect patient outcomes. We examined individual and organizational factors associated with missed and cancelled colonoscopy appointments in Veteran Health Administration facilities. Methods: From 69 facilities meeting inclusion criteria, we identified 27,994 patients with colonoscopy appointments scheduled for follow-up, on the basis of positive fecal occult blood test results, between August 16, 2009 and September 30, 2011. We identified factors associated with colonoscopy appointment status (completed, cancelled, or missed) by using hierarchical multinomial regression. Individual factors examined included age, race, sex, marital status, residence, drive time to nearest specialty care facility, limited life expectancy, comorbidities, colonoscopy in the past decade, referring facility type, referral month, and appointment lead time. Organizational factors included facility region, complexity, appointment reminders, scheduling, and prep education practices. Results: Missed appointments were associated with limited life expectancy (odds ratio [OR], 2.74; P = .0004), no personal history of polyps (OR, 2.74; P < .0001), high facility complexity (OR, 2.69; P = .007), dual diagnosis of psychiatric disorders and substance abuse (OR, 1.82; P < .0001), and opt-out scheduling (OR, 1.57; P = .02). Cancelled appointments were associated with age (OR, 1.61; P = .0005 for 85 years or older and OR, 1.44; P < .0001 for 65-84 years old), no history of polyps (OR, 1.51; P < .0001), and opt-out scheduling (OR, 1.26; P = .04). Additional predictors of both outcomes included race, marital status, and lead time. Conclusions: Several factors within Veterans Health Administration clinic control can be targeted to reduce missed and cancelled colonoscopy appointments. Specifically, developing systems to minimize referrals for patients with limited life expectancy could reduce missed appointments, and use of opt-in scheduling and reductions in appointment lead time could improve both outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-267
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding This research was funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Services Research & Development (VA HSR&D) grant #IIR 08-334-2 (Partin),VA HSR&D Research Career Scientist award #RCS 10-185 (Partin), VA HSR&D Career Development Award CDA 14-158 (Ziad), and VA Clinical Science Research & Development Career Development Award CDA-2 (Shaukat). The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position or policy of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 AGA Institute.

Copyright 2016 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Appointments and Schedules
  • Colonoscopy
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Observational Study
  • Organizational Efficiency
  • Veterans Health


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