A pragmatic trial to improve adherence with scheduled appointments in an inner-city pain clinic by human phone calls in the patient's preferred language

Michael H. Andreae, Singh R. Nair, Jonah S. Gabry, Ben Goodrich, Charles B. Hall, Naum Shaparin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


Study objective We investigated if human reminder phone calls in the patient's preferred language increase adherence with scheduled appointments in an inner-city chronic pain clinic. We hypothesized that language and cultural incongruence is the underlying mechanism to explain poor attendance at clinic appointments in underserved Hispanic populations. Design Pragmatic randomized controlled clinical trial Setting Innercity academic chronic pain clinic with a diverse, predominantly African-American and Hispanic population Patients All (n = 963) adult patients with a scheduled first appointment between October 2014 and October 2015 at the Montefiore Pain Center in the Bronx, New York were enrolled. Interventions Patients were randomized to receive a human reminder call in their preferred language before their appointment, or no contact. Measurements We recorded patients' demographic characteristics and as primary outcome attendance as scheduled, failure to attend and/or cancellation calls. We fit Bayesian and classical multinomial logistic regression models to test if the intervention improved adherence with scheduled appointments. Main results Among the 953 predominantly African American and Hispanic/Latino patients, 475 patients were randomly selected to receive a language-congruent, human reminder call, while 478 were assigned to receive no prior contact, (after we excluded 10 patients, scheduled for repeat appointments). In the experimental group, 275 patients adhered to their scheduled appointment, while 84 cancelled and 116 failed to attend. In the control group, 249 patients adhered to their scheduled appointment, 31 cancelled and 198 failed to attend. Human phone reminders in the preferred language increased adherence (RR 1.89, CI95% [1.42, 1.42], (p < 0.01). The intervention seemed particularly effective in Hispanic patients, supporting our hypothesis of cultural congruence as possible underlying mechanism. Conclusions Human reminder phone calls prior in the patient's preferred language increased adherence with scheduled appointments. The intervention facilitated access to much needed care in an ethnically diverse, resource poor population, presumably by overcoming language barriers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-83
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Anesthesia
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2017



  • Access to care
  • Adherence
  • Chronic pain
  • Clinic appointments
  • Health care disparities
  • Hispanic/Latino
  • Language barrier

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

Cite this