The transition from child-centred paediatric care to adult health care service is not simply limited to the change from familiar structures to something unknown but includes the entire process of growing up, of individuals becoming independent from their parents and taking responsibility for their own disease management.
Young people are at particular risk of losing the connection to medical care during this phase and the transition of young people with chronic conditions is associated with a high risk of declining adherence and worsening health status.
Studies suggest that transition programs might be helpful, yet there is no evidence as to whether risks can be reduced, or which intervention components are particularly conducive to a better outcomes.
Therefore, this study conducted a systematic literature search resulting in 40 studies. Transition interventions used several program components, such as transition coordinators, patient education programs or web-based interventions.
Outcomes included quality of life, transition-specific knowledge, adherence and loss to follow-up. Thirty-eight studies showed beneficial effects in the intervention group, respectively after the intervention. The overall study quality was low. A large number of studies evaluating transition-specific interventions were included.
Transition-specific interventions seem to have beneficial effects on psychosocial outcomes and adherence. The promotion of health literacy, appointment arrangement service and the use of technical elements (websites, SMS) seem to be particularly helpful in the transition process. As the patient population was diverse, the results can be transferred to other diseases. Even though the overall study quality was poor, it is possible to draw some conclusions.
Future studies should aim to include large numbers of patients over extended periods of time in order to assess long-term outcomes.