Adult Provider Perspectives on Transition and Transfer to Adult Care: A Multi-Specialty, Multi-Institutional Exploration

J Pediatr Nurs. 2021 Jul-Aug:59:173-180. doi: 10.1016/j.pedn.2021.04.017. Epub 2021 Apr 28.


Purpose: To identify barriers that transcend multiple adult care specialties and identify potential solutions.

Design and methods: Twenty-one adult care providers practicing in the specialty areas of internal medicine, family medicine, gastroenterology, endocrinology, and neurology participated in one of six semi-structured focus group interviews. Data were coded and analyzed according to the Socio-ecological Model of Adolescent/Young Adult Readiness for Transition (SMART).

Results: Three themes and one subtheme emerged from the data. These fell within the beliefs/expectations, knowledge, access/insurance, and relationships (subtheme) domains of the SMART model. Family beliefs/expectations regarding the provider role, difficulty accessing reliable information, and limited access to mental health and behavioral providers reportedly affect providers' ability to provide optimal health care.

Conclusions: Adult providers identified several barriers affecting their ability to care for newly transferred patients. Increased education of families and improved methods of communication between providers were recommended. Barriers related to access and insurance are common and require larger systems-level collaborations between health care systems and payor sources.

Practical implications: Some recommendations (e.g., educating families on the distinct roles of the PCP vs. specialist, highlighting new treatment opportunities in adult care, conveying trust and endorsing the new provider), represent concrete steps pediatric providers can immediately take to improve transfer. Other steps will require forging bridges across the pediatric and adult care world to expand patient access to medical, mental health, and behavioral services.

Keywords: Adolescent; Adult; Barriers; Pediatric; Transfer; Transition; Young adult.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Communication
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Qualitative Research
  • Specialization
  • Transition to Adult Care*
  • Young Adult