Transfer from pediatric to adult care is a critical component of a high-quality transition experience for adolescents and young adults (AYA) with chronic illness. To examine the current evidence regarding the effect of transition interventions on care transfer, we performed a systematic review of studies that evaluated the effect of transition interventions on the specific health services outcome of transfer. The Medline, CINAHL, and PsycINFO databases were searched for studies that evaluated 1) a discrete transition intervention for AYA, 2) included a comparison group, and 3) reported on the outcome of transfer from pediatric to adult healthcare. References were screened and reviewed separately by authors, and relevant study details were abstracted during the review process. Five studies from five different countries were included in the final analysis. All five studies were conducted in specialty care clinics, with three interventions involving a nurse practitioner or systems navigator and two interventions involving physicians. Four studies were retrospective observational studies, and one was a pilot randomized controlled trial. Three of the five studies found that the transition intervention was associated with increased rates of transfer while the other two showed no statistically significant effects. Overall, evaluation of transfer appears to be hindered by methodological challenges. Establishing clearer definitions and metrics of transfer and creating the infrastructure needed to monitor the transfer of patients more consistently are important goals.
Keywords: Adolescents; Chronic illness; Healthcare transfer; Healthcare transition; Young adults.
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