Attrition paper infographics August 2020

Using Electronic Health Records in Longitudinal Studies


Electronic health records (EHRs) can provide a wealth of information about patient health making them an attractive source for longitudinal research. However, critical information about attrition rates in EHR data is missing. This study assessed patient attrition rates at community health centers (CHCs) serving medically underserved populations. Authors estimated the percent of patients returning for a visit over a 3-year period among all CHC patients and among patients with diabetes or hypertension.

Useful Findings

The attrition rates for CHCs over a 3-year period remained low. The majority of patients (more than 66%) continued to have visits at their CHCs within a 3-year period. Patients with chronic illness such as diabetes or hypertension were even more likely to return to CHC for their medical care within a 3-year period, with more than 75% having continuous visits.

Bottom Line

This study published in Medical Care found that patient attrition in CHCs was low. These findings indicate that EHR data from CHCs are reliable for longitudinal research.

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