Travel distance and attrition in outpatient eating disorders treatment

Authors

  • Lorraine A. Swan-Kremeier PsyD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Neuropsychiatric Research Institute, Fargo, North Dakota
    2. Department of Neuroscience, University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Fargo, North Dakota
    • Neuropsychiatric Research Institute, 700 1st Avenue South, P.O. Box 1415, Fargo, ND 58107
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  • James E. Mitchell MD,

    1. Neuropsychiatric Research Institute, Fargo, North Dakota
    2. Department of Neuroscience, University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Fargo, North Dakota
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  • Tasha Twardowski BS,

    1. Neuropsychiatric Research Institute, Fargo, North Dakota
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  • Kathy Lancaster BS,

    1. Neuropsychiatric Research Institute, Fargo, North Dakota
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  • Ross D. Crosby PhD

    1. Neuropsychiatric Research Institute, Fargo, North Dakota
    2. Department of Neuroscience, University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Fargo, North Dakota
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Abstract

Objective

The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of the distance patients had to travel for treatment on attendance patterns and treatment attrition.

Method

Contact information, clinical records, and/or appointment records of 209 adult patients presenting to an outpatient eating disorder treatment center over a specific period of time were reviewed. Information was obtained on demographics, diagnosis, number of appointments attended, cancelled, and failed, and termination status. Patients were classified as treatment completers or dropouts and compared on demographic, diagnostic, attendance, and distance to treatment site variables.

Results

Treatment completer and dropout groups did not differ significantly on demographic variables, with the exception of employed patients being more likely to drop out of treatment. Although not statistically significant, patients diagnosed with bulimia nervosa (BN) and eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS) were more likely to drop out of treatment prematurely. Surprisingly, distance traveled to the treatment site was not significantly different between groups and did not appear to significantly impact attendance patterns.

Conclusion

Results of this archival investigation were unexpected and likely limited by the design. Results can be useful in understanding motivational factors inherent in noncompliance and premature termination of treatment. A prospective study including fine-grained analysis of variables associated with eating disorder treatment attrition is indicated. © 2005 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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