Transition planning for youth with special health care needs: results from the National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs

Pediatrics. 2005 Jun;115(6):1562-8. doi: 10.1542/peds.2004-1262.


Objective: To describe the proportion of youth with special health care needs (YSHCN) who are receiving services for medical transitions and to describe which sociodemographic and health care-related factors are associated with receiving transition services.

Methods: We analyzed responses to questions about medical transitions from the 2001 National Survey of Children With Special Health Care Needs (NS-CSHCN). Parents or guardians of youth aged 13 to 17 years who screened positive for the survey were asked (1) whether they had discussed with health care providers how their child's health care needs might change in adulthood, (2) if they had a plan to address these changing needs, and (3) if their child's health care providers had discussed having their child eventually see a doctor who treats adults. Bivariate and multivariate associations were estimated to identify sociodemographic and health care factors related to receiving medical-transition services.

Results: Overall, 50% of respondents had discussed their child's changing health care needs with their physicians, although significantly fewer Hispanic youth compared with other youth reported these discussions. Youth who met criteria for a medical home were more likely to have discussed changing needs and to have a plan addressing these needs. Of those who had discussed changing needs, 59% had a plan to address these needs and approximately 42% had reported discussing shifting care to adult-oriented providers. Younger teens and non-Hispanic black children were less likely to have discussed changing providers. Fifteen percent of YSHCN met the Maternal and Child Health Bureau's core outcome for medical transitions. A multivariate logistic-regression model found that older age and having a medical home were significantly associated with increased odds of meeting the outcome measure.

Conclusion: The proportion of YSHCN meeting the medical-transition outcome measure is quite low, particularly for youth from ethnic minorities. Higher rates are seen for older teens and those receiving care within a medical home. Significant efforts will be required to meet the proposed goal of all YSHCN receiving the services necessary to transition to adult health care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aging
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data
  • California
  • Case Management
  • Child, Exceptional*
  • Continuity of Patient Care / organization & administration*
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand* / trends
  • Health Surveys*
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Insurance Coverage / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Needs Assessment / statistics & numerical data
  • Sampling Studies
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • White People / statistics & numerical data