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People who often miss doctor appointments have higher risk of death

Patients who make a habit of missing general practice (GP) appointments may be at a higher risk of death from any cause, according to a new study. The researchers found that this is particularly the case among individuals with mental health conditions.

A team of experts led by the University of Glasgow determined that the more long-term conditions (LTC) a patient had, the more likely they were to miss appointments. The investigation was focused on 824,374 patients, most of whom had one or more long-term conditions.

Out of 59, 340 patients who missed three or more appointments per year over a three-year period, 40.1 percent had four or more LTCs, 50.1 percent had one to three LTCs, and just 9.8 percent had no LTCs.

Individuals with mental-health-based LTCs were found to be much more likely to miss appointments compared to those with physical LTCs. Patients with one to three mental health conditions were 30 percent more likely to miss an appointment, while patients with four or more mental health LTCs were twice as likely to miss appointments.

“Patients with a higher number of missed appointments were also at greater risk of death within the following year,” said study co-author Dr. Ross McQueenie. “Those with long-term physical conditions who missed two or more appointments per year had a threefold increase in all-cause mortality compared with those who missed no appointments.”

“Patients with only mental health conditions who missed more than two appointments per year had an eightfold increase in all-cause mortality compared with those who missed no appointments. Patients diagnosed with long-term mental health problems, who died during the follow-up period, were more likely to die prematurely, often as a result of external factors such as suicide, rather than of natural causes.”

The study is published in the journal BMC Medicine.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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