Transitional Care Interventions for Youth With Disabilities: A Systematic Review

Pediatrics. 2020 Nov;146(5):e20200187. doi: 10.1542/peds.2020-0187. Epub 2020 Oct 12.


Context: Transition from the pediatric to the adult health care system is a complex process that should include medical, psychosocial, educational, recreational, and vocational considerations.

Objective: In this systematic review, we aim to synthesize the evidence on transitional care interventions (TCIs) to improve the quality of life (QoL) for adolescents and young adults with childhood-onset disabilities, including neurodevelopmental disorders.

Data sources: Four electronic databases (Medline, Embase, PsycINFO, and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature) were searched.

Study selection: In the included studies, researchers examined TCIs for adolescents and young adults (12-24 years of age) with childhood-onset disabilities. Studies were experimental, quasi-experimental, and observational studies published in the last 26 years.

Data extraction: Two reviewers independently completed study screening, data extraction, and risk-of-bias assessment.

Results: Fifty-two studies were included. Five studies reported on QoL, but statistically significant improvements were noted in only 1 of these studies. Significant improvements were also found in secondary outcomes including disability-related knowledge and transitional readiness. TCIs targeted patients, families and/or caregivers, and health care providers and exhibited great heterogeneity in their characteristics and components.

Limitations: Inconsistent reporting on interventions between studies hindered synthesis of the relationships between specific intervention characteristics and outcomes.

Conclusions: Although there is limited evidence on the impact of TCIs on the QoL for youth with childhood-onset disabilities, there is indication that they can be effective in improving patient and provider outcomes. The initiation of transition-focused care at an early age may contribute to improved long-term health outcomes in this population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bias
  • Child
  • Disabled Children*
  • Health Services for Persons with Disabilities*
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life*
  • Transition to Adult Care*
  • Young Adult

Grant support