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Iowa Orthop J. 2006;26:91-5.

Patient location strategies for pediatric long-term follow-up studies.

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The Ponseti Center for Clubfoot Treatment, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA.



Poor follow-up rates greatly diminish the validity of prospective and long-term studies. Therefore, locating patients is of critical importance. This is especially true in populations treated during childhood because addresses will change several times in intervening years. Recent publications have reported new strategies for patient location. The purpose of this study is to test an algorithm proposed by King et al., as well as other search methods, using a cohort of patients treated for clubfoot in childhood


The study population included 126 patients with clubfeet treated between 1950 and 1967. We followed the search algorithm proposed by King et al. In addition, we used state driver's license records,, and Patients were considered to be found when they returned a postage-paid reply letter or were contacted by phone.


Using web pages recommended by King et al. we located 26 of 126 (21 percent) patients. Operator directory assistance failed to locate any patients not located by free internet sources. Additional websites had varied results. State driver's license records found 25 patients. found none with thirty attempted. The best search engine was which located 68 out of 126 (54 percent) patients.


The algorithm proposed by King et al. is not effective for long-term follow-up studies of pediatric populations. is worth the small fee charged (dollar 22.45) as it was the most effective method of locating patients.

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