A study of 41 families who failed to attend their first appointment at a child psychiatric clinic is described. The study was prospective over a period of one year and the families were interviewed personally; 14.9% failed their first appointment. Improvement of the child's symptoms during the waiting period, anxiety about seeing a psychiatrist/social worker, financial difficulties and the invitation to the family to attend were common reasons given for non-attendance. Another important factor was that families were ill-prepared by the referrers.
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