OCT 19, 2020
This study identified risk factors for patients who are lost to follow-up (LTFU) while undergoing anti-VEGF therapy and/or panretinal photocoagulation (PRP) for proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR).
Researchers performed a retrospective chart review assessing 418 adult patients with PDR who received intravitreal anti-VEGF injections and/or PRP at a single institution during a 4.5-year period. The study investigated the rate of LTFU at the largest safety-net hospital in New England. Patients with at least 1 interval between appointments that exceeded 6 months, unless a follow-up of more than 6 months was suggested, were designated as LTFU.
During the study period, 61% of patients had at least 1 episode of LTFU, with 25% lost within 12 months. Statistically significant variables that were associated with higher LTFU rates included non-English primary language, age of 65 years or older, living 20 miles or less from the institution, presence of 5 or more comorbidities, visiting 20 or more medical departments, missing greater than 10% of non-eye care appointments, and treatment by PRP alone.
The retrospective study design and the variable duration of follow-ups are limitations to this study. Variables associated with LTFU were obtained from electronic medical records which can have incomplete documentation and may have affected the results. Findings from an inner-city location may not be generalizable to all diabetic populations.
Understanding the variables associated with LTFU may help retina specialists mitigate the consequences of gaps in care. In addition, identifying patients at high risk for LTFU is important when selecting optimal treatments.