Background: Efforts to facilitate transition of care to adult providers for adolescents with chronic disease are not uniformly successful and many patients encounter challenges. The goal of this study was to assess transition readiness and preferences for tools to aid in the transition process with an emphasis on technology and social media.
Methods: We surveyed and performed focus groups on patients aged 13-21 years from a pediatric university-based rheumatology and general pediatric practice. Demographics and transition readiness were assessed using a questionnaire. Transition readiness was assessed by examining patient knowledge and independence with care. Focus groups were conducted to elicit perspectives about desirable features of a transition program and useful tools.
Results: Thirty-five patients completed surveys; and 20 patients and 13 of their parents participated in a focus group. The median patient age was 17 years and 74.3% were female. A Likert scale (0-10, 10=most) was used to evaluate concern over changing to an adult medical provider, (mean=6.4, SD=2.6), preparedness for disease self-management (mean=6.0, SD=2.8), and perceived importance of self-managing their condition (mean=7.1, SD=3.1). Themes that emerged from focus groups included a desire for support groups with other teens, a preference for using text messaging for communication and a desire for an online health management program.
Conclusions: Teens with chronic disease are able to identify health maintenance tasks and strategies that will aid in developing independence with healthcare management. These findings support the idea that developing engaging applications and support groups will assist teens in the transitioning.