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This article is the author’s final published version in Preventing chronic disease, Volume 18, May 2021, Page E52.

The published version is available at Copyright © Leiby et al.


INTRODUCTION: Appointment nonadherence is common among people with glaucoma, making it difficult for eye care providers to monitor glaucoma progression. Our objective was to determine whether the use of patient navigators, in conjunction with social worker support, could increase adherence to recommended follow-up eye appointments.

METHODS: A randomized, controlled trial evaluated the effectiveness of an intervention that used patient navigators and social workers to improve patient adherence to follow-up eye care compared with usual care. Participants with glaucoma and other eye diseases (N = 344) were identified at primary care clinics in community settings through telemedicine screening of imaging and then randomized to enhanced intervention (EI) or usual care (UC). Data on participants' visits with local ophthalmologists were collected for up to 3 years from randomization. Groups were compared for timely attendance at the first visit with the local ophthalmologist and adherence to recommended follow-up visits.

RESULTS: Timely attendance at the first visit was higher for EI than UC (74.4% vs 39.0%; average relative risk [aRR] = 1.85; 95% CI, 1.51-2.28; P < .001). Rates of adherence to recommended annual follow-up during year 1 were 18.6% in the EI group and 8.1% in the usual care group (aRR = 2.08; 95% CI, 1.14-3.76; P = .02). The aRR across years 2 and 3 was 3.92 (95% CI, 1.24-12.43; P = .02).

CONCLUSION: An intervention using patient navigators and social workers doubled the rate of adherence to annual recommended follow-up eye care compared with usual care in community settings, and was effective at increasing connections with local ophthalmologists. Interventions to further improve long-term adherence are needed.

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