Increasing initial appointment attendance in paediatric mental health clinics: A call for theory-driven interventions

Holly Etchegary, Normand Carrey, Janet Curran, Jill Hatchette


Initial appointment nonattendance is a serious problem for paediatric mental health services in Canada. In this paper, we report on a study protocol that uses an empirically validated theory of behavior to increase first-time attendance rates in paediatric mental health clinics. A mixed method approach is proposed to understand beliefs about initial appointments and nonattendance. We propose semi-structured interviews with parents/guardians, focus groups with children and youth, and a postal survey of parents and children in order to administer our intervention. The intervention is theoretically guided by the idea of Implementation Intentions, or ‘if-then’ plans. It is expected that the use of a theory-based, cost effective intervention will increase attendance at initial child mental health appointments. We aim to encourage researchers and clinicians to consider the use of theory-driven interventions in their work in mental health. Theoretically-guided research may allow us to prospectively identify children and youth at greater risk of missing their initial appointment and thereby target them with measures to improve attendance.

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Nonattendance, paediatric mental health, intervention, theory of planned behavior, implementation intentions

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ISSN 1832-7931
Swinburne University of Technology