Review Article

Improving Transitions of Care for Healthy Adolescents and Young Adults

Authors: Shannon Leung, MD, MPH, Mason Walgrave, MD, Sarah Mennito, MD, MSCR


Objectives: To explore the gaps in care within the transition process from pediatric to adult medicine for healthy and noncomplex adolescents and young adults and to highlight the importance of identifying and adapting interventions to improve transitions for this population.

Methods: Three researchers independently completed searches in PubMed, PsychINFO, and CINAHL Complete. The review used the following inclusion criteria: English-language original research articles published between January 2007 and January 2018 involving care transitions for male and female patients ages 13 to 24 years with diagnoses that may be managed only by a primary care provider. Studies were excluded if they were reviews or commentaries, included only specialist providers, or primarily investigated children with special healthcare needs. The articles selected based on these inclusion and exclusion criteria, as well as those identified through review of references of included articles and known articles not found through those searches, were analyzed for suitability.

Results: Nine studies were included in the review. Limited consensus existed on how transitions of care should be approached for healthy and noncomplex adolescents, despite the 2002, 2011, and 2018 policy statements and clinical reports providing guidelines on transition processes. Perceptions about when to initiate the process, what to discuss about transitions, and how to approach those conversations varied among providers.

Conclusions: The literature is limited regarding transitions of care from pediatric to adult medicine for healthy and noncomplex adolescents and young adults. Areas for intervention were identified from these studies and have yet to be explored. Additional research is needed to overcome transition obstacles and to tailor interventions to help healthy and noncomplex adolescents and young adults at this vulnerable time of their lives.

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