When young people with long-term health conditions, such as diabetes mellitus, cerebral palsy or autism spectrum disorder, move from childhood to adulthood, their health may worsen and their social participation may reduce. ‘Transition’ is the process that addresses the medical, psychosocial and educational needs of young people during this time. This research included young people, families, health-care staff, commissioners who buy health care, and managers who deliver health care. Findings were as follows:
- Commissioners and managers thought that transitional health care was the responsibility of children’s services.
- Developmentally appropriate health care underpins good health care for young people, including those in transition.
- Good practice, led by enthusiasts in one setting, often did not generalise to other specialties or to adults’ services.
- Shared planning of transition between adult clinicians, child clinicians and general practice is important.
- Young people adopted one of four approaches to transition: ‘laid-back’, ‘anxious’, ‘wanting to be in control’ or ‘socially oriented’ (i.e. welcoming the involvement of family, friends and health-care staff).
Over 3 years, information was collected from 374 young people with diabetes mellitus, cerebral palsy or autism spectrum disorder. Three features of transitional health care linked to better health outcomes:
- Appropriate parent involvement.
- Young person helped to be confident about managing their health condition.
- Young person meeting the adult team before transferring.