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J Clin Gastroenterol. 2009 Aug;43(7):652-60. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0b013e3181855077.

Non-English speakers attend gastroenterology clinic appointments at higher rates than English speakers in a vulnerable patient population.

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Department of Medicine, University of California San Francisco, Division of General Internal Medicine, San Francisco General Hospital, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA.



We sought to identify factors associated with gastroenterology clinic attendance in an urban safety net healthcare system.


Missed clinic appointments reduce the efficiency and availability of healthcare, but subspecialty clinic attendance among patients with established healthcare access has not been studied.


We performed an observational study using secondary data from administrative sources to study patients referred to, and scheduled for an appointment in, the adult gastroenterology clinic serving the safety net healthcare system of San Francisco, CA. Our dependent variable was whether subjects attended or missed a scheduled appointment. Analysis included multivariable logistic regression and classification tree analysis. A total of 1833 patients were referred and scheduled for an appointment between May 2005 and August 2006. Prisoners were excluded. All patients had a primary care provider.


Six hundred eighty-three patients (37.3%) missed their appointment; 1150 patients (62.7%) attended. Language was highly associated with attendance in the logistic regression; non-English speakers were less likely than English speakers to miss an appointment [adjusted odds ratio 0.42 (0.28, 0.63) for Spanish, 0.56 (0.38, 0.82) for Asian language, P<0.001]. Other factors were also associated with attendance, but classification tree analysis identified language to be the most highly associated variable.


In an urban safety net healthcare population, among patients with established healthcare access and a scheduled gastroenterology clinic appointment, not speaking English was most strongly associated with higher attendance rates. Patient-related factors associated with not speaking English likely influence subspecialty clinic attendance rates, and these factors may differ from those affecting general healthcare access.

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