International guidance on health-care transition has existed for over a decade; however, many unanswered questions remain. This systematic review of reviews aimed to answer the question: is a later age of transfer from pediatric to adult health care associated with improved health and health service outcomes?
We included systematic reviews which considered at least one long-term condition and provided outcome data from adult services. Methodology of primary studies was not an exclusion criterion. We searched multiple databases and conducted an initial search in May 2015 which was repeated in May 2017. All reviews were assessed for quality using the Revised Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews (R-AMSTAR) tool. Reviews that scored less than 22 were excluded.
Initial searches identified 6,149 papers. Forty-three reviews met exclusion and inclusion criteria, and 15 reviews also met quality criteria. With one exception, primary studies from reviews which only considered quantitative evidence found that a delayed age of transfer resulted in improved outcomes. Qualitative and mixed-methods evidence supported the view that age 18 was an appropriate time of transfer.
We found moderate evidence that models of transition which transfer young people in late adolescence or early adulthood can improve transition outcomes and patient satisfaction.
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Published online: March 01, 2019
Accepted: November 30, 2018
Received: July 29, 2018
Conflicts of interest: The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.
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