Background: Transferring adolescents with diabetes from pediatric to adult care remains a challenge and the outcome is often unknown. The aims of this study were to determine the patients' perception of transfer arrangements and to analyze health care use and metabolic control.
Methods: A telephone questionnaire was conducted for patients who had been transferred from the pediatric clinic to adult care between 1995 and 2003. Of 161 identified patients, 101 (58 females, 43 males, mean age 22.1 +/- 2.4 years) were interviewed. Pediatric case notes and, if available (n = 44), current notes were analyzed to validate answers from the interview.
Results: After transfer, 52.5% of patients changed their health care provider at least once. The mean frequency of changes was 1.47. There was a significant decrease in clinic attendance rate after transition (8.5 +/- 2.3/years vs. 6.7 +/- 3.2/years). Patients criticized the lack of arrangements, poor information about transfer and the specific age for transition (18 years) set by legislation. The transfer was considered a negative experience by 58 patients. The patients assumed their metabolic control (HbA1c) was better than it really was (7.5 +/- 1.3% vs. 8.3 +/- 1.6%, p < 0.05). Actual HbA1c from case notes pre- and post-transfer did not change significantly (8.5 +/- 1.5% vs. 8.4 +/- 1.7%, n = 44, p = 0.441).
Conclusion: The establishment of transition clinics and closer cooperation between specialists in pediatric and adult medicine is mandatory. Such changes are demanded by patients and would ensure better uptake of health care services after transfer.