Pretreatment dropout as a function of treatment delay and client variables

David S. Festinger, R. J. Lamb, Maria R. Kountz, Kimberly C. Kirby, Douglas Marlowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


Utilizing a retrospective analysis we examined factors correlated with preintake dropout in patients phoning to make intake appointments for cocaine treatment. Inquiries of 235 individuals calling our outpatient cocaine treatment program over a 7-month period were analyzed for relationships between patient age and gender; residence in the city where the program is located; marital status; referral source; reported problems with alcohol, marijuana, and heroin; reported last use of cocaine or other illicit stimulants; assigned counselor gender; person who made the appointment; days to the intake appointment; and attending the scheduled intake session. Only days to appointment was significantly (Wald = 12.4587, df = 1, p < .05 and χ2 = 17.7, df = 8, p < .05) correlated with attending the scheduled intake session. Appointments scheduled the same day differed significantly (χ2 = 4.3, n = 235, df = 1, p < .05) from appointments scheduled later. This suggests that client and situational variables are not significantly related to initial attendance and enhances the significance of systemic variables that are under a clinic's control, such as appointment delay. The results indicate that the longer the delay between the initial phone contact and the scheduled appointment, the less likely a client is to attend an appointment. Further, they suggest that the greatest decrease in initial attendance occurs in the first 24 hours following the phone inquiry. Taking a "microscopic" look at the appointment delay variable is valuable in understanding and addressing preintake dropout.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-115
Number of pages5
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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