When a patient fails to show up for a physical therapy appointment, what’s behind the reason for the no-show?
That’s a question Morenci graduate Aubrey Stover examined with her fellow student and research partner, Alyson Parks.
For their senior project at Central Michigan University’s athletic trainer and sports medicine program, the pair surveyed patients during their three-month internships, and they came up with some findings that could be of use to others in the field.
Their presentation, titled “A Comparative Analysis of Patient Compliance vs. Noncompliance Rated During Rehabilitation,” was given at the department’s research symposium May 2.
Patients at two clinics were interviewed about their attendance at appointments and their compliance with therapy techniques during treatment.
Some reasons for missed appointments are beyond the therapy staff’s control, such as illness and weather. Other factors, such as forgetting and the state of pain, can be addressed.
The students discovered that patient satisfaction is a key in achieving compliance. A kind and encouraging therapist and an office in which patients are seen promptly both make a big difference in how patients respond to treatment.
Although their sample of patients was small, the researchers found a nine to one ratio of attendance regularity when patients paid for their own care compared to those who had complete coverage by their employer.
More than 40 percent of the patients said they would pay for the therapy themselves if coverage wasn’t provided, although they weren’t told the typical cost of the service.
Stover and Parks concluded that satisfaction among patients could be increased by allowing them to meet with the same therapist for every visit and by better tailoring the therapy to individual needs.
They also recommended increased hours of operation for offices to better meet the needs of working individuals.
Missed appointments and non-compliance in therapy adversely affect the patient, they said, but it also can have a negative effect on clinics, insurance companies and the health care industry.
The pair gave conclusions, offered recommendations and gave suggestions for future research—and their efforts resulted in a high rating from the professor.
“I was excited that we got a good grade,” said Stover, who now has a bachelor’s degree in athletic training and sports medicine.
She’s scheduled to take her certification examination next month, but she’s not going to stop there.
“I learned during my internship that I like physical therapy better than working as an athletic trainer.”
That means two more years of schooling. Stover hopes to be accepted into the physical therapy assistant program at Owens Community College to add one more certification to her name.
• Aubrey is the daughter of Roger and Barb Stover of Morenci.