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Transitions of Care From Pediatric to Adult Services for Children With Special Healthcare Needs

Systematic Review May 31, 2022
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Main Points

  • With only a single exception that showed no benefit, we found that for all outcomes and interventions the evidence was insufficient to draw conclusions because the uncertainty of evidence was too high. Insufficient evidence does not mean that the intervention is of no value to children with special healthcare needs (CSHCN).
  • Transition clinics may not improve hemoglobin A1C levels at 12 or 24 months in youth with type 1 diabetes mellitus compared with youth who received usual care (low-strength evidence).
  • While significant barriers impede implementation of interventions, some approaches to reduce these barriers in future interventions include dedicating time and resources to support transition planning, developing a workforce trained to care for the needs of this population, and creating structured processes and tools to facilitate the transition process.
  • No globally accepted definition exists for effective transition of care from pediatric to adult services for CSHCN, nor is a single measure or set of measures consistently used to evaluate effectiveness of transitions of care.
  • The literature identifies only a limited number of available trainings or other implementation strategies, generally focused on specific clinical specialties in targeted settings.
  • No included studies measured the effectiveness of providing linguistically and culturally competent healthcare for CSHCN.
  • Trainings and interventions to prepare pediatric patients and their families for transitioning CSHCN to adult care vary considerably in their components, structures, and processes.

Structured Abstract

Objective. To understand the evidence base for care interventions, implementation strategies, and between-provider communication tools among children with special healthcare needs (CSHCN) transitioning from pediatric to adult medical care services.

Data sources. We searched Ovid MEDLINE®, Ovid Embase®, the Cochrane Central trials (CENTRAL) registry, and CINAHL® to identify studies through September 10, 2021. We conducted grey literature searches to identify additional resources relevant to contextual questions.

Review methods. Using a mixed-studies review approach, we searched for interventions or implementation strategies for transitioning CSHCN from pediatric to adult services. Two investigators screened abstracts and full-text articles of identified references for eligibility. Eligible studies included randomized controlled trials, quasi-experimental observational studies, and mixed-method studies of CSHCN, their families, caregivers, or healthcare providers. We extracted basic study information from all eligible studies and grouped interventions into categories based on disease conditions. We summarized basic study characteristics for included studies and outcomes for studies assessed as low to medium risk of bias using RoB-2.

Results. We identified 9,549 unique references, 440 of which represented empirical research; of these, 154 (16 major disease categories) described or examined a care transition intervention with enough detail to potentially be eligible for inclusion in any of the Key Questions. Of these, 96 studies met comparator criteria to undergo risk of bias assessment; however only 9 studies were assessed as low or medium risk of bias and included in our analytic set. Low-strength evidence shows transition clinics may not improve hemoglobin A1C levels either at 12 or 24 months in youth with type 1 diabetes mellitus compared with youth who received usual care. For all other interventions and outcomes, the evidence was insufficient to draw meaningful conclusions because the uncertainty of evidence was too high. Some approaches to addressing barriers include dedicating time and resources to support transition planning, developing a workforce trained to care for the needs of this population, and creating structured processes and tools to facilitate the transition process.

No globally accepted definition for effective transition of care from pediatric to adult services for CSHCN exists; definitions are often drawn from principles for transitions, encompassing a broad set of clinical aspects and other factors that influence care outcomes or promote continuity of care. There is also no single measure or set of measures consistently used to evaluate effectiveness of transitions of care. The literature identifies a limited number of available training and other implementation strategies focused on specific clinical specialties in targeted settings. No eligible studies measured the effectiveness of providing linguistically and culturally competent healthcare for CSHCN. Identified transition care training, and care interventions to prepare pediatric patients and their families for transitioning from CSHCN to adult care, varied considerably.

Conclusions. Little rigorous evidence exists to inform care interventions and implementation strategies. Significant barriers impede implementation of interventions, tools, and trainings to transition CSHCN, which may be reduced in future intervention development. This review highlights the need for more rigorous studies across the diverse populations of CSHCN in order to provide clearer answers for CSHCN, their families, caregivers, providers, funders, and policymakers.

Citation

Parsons HM, Abdi HI, Nelson VA, Claussen A, Wagner BL, Sadak KT, Scal PB, Wilt TJ, Butler M. Transitions of Care From Pediatric to Adult Services for Children With Special Healthcare Needs. Comparative Effectiveness Review No. 255. (Prepared by the Minnesota Evidence-based Practice Center under Contract No. 75Q80120D00008.) AHRQ Publication No. 22-EHC027. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; May 2022. DOI: https://doi.org/10.23970/AHRQEPCCER255. Posted final reports are located on the Effective Health Care Program

Project Timeline

Transitions of Care From Pediatric to Adult Services for Children With Special Healthcare Needs

Jun 2, 2020
Topic Initiated
Nov 19, 2020
May 31, 2022
Systematic Review
Page last reviewed May 2022
Page originally created May 2022

Internet Citation: Systematic Review: Transitions of Care From Pediatric to Adult Services for Children With Special Healthcare Needs. Content last reviewed May 2022. Effective Health Care Program, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.
https://effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/products/transitions-care-pediatric-adult/research

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