In countries which lack robust health care systems, congenital conditions such as cleft lip and/or palate deformities are often untreated in certain individuals. Many volunteer organizations have stepped in to fill this gap but certain factors, such as continuity of care, are yet to be studied for these clinics.
This is a retrospective cohort study of 167 pediatric patients with cleft lip and/or palate residing in El Salvador treated by a nongovernmental organizations between 2011 and 2020. This data was used in univariate and multivariable models to associate particular patient factors to their likelihood of following up to their annual clinic visits.
Each 1-year increase in duration of follow-up was associated with a 27% decrease in the odds of attending a visit. In addition, 33.7% of cleft lip and 49.7% of cleft palate/cleft lip and palate patients returned at least once. Males had 36% higher odds of attending a return visit compared with females but this difference was not statistically significant. Time spent travelling to the clinic had no effect on follow-up rates.
Nongovernmental organizations utilizing a diagonal care model should consider using more strategies to maximize continuity of care by increasing communication with patients and emphasizing the need of following up during clinic visits. Continued and increased collaboration with the local team is also of great importance.