A course on the transition to adult care of patients with childhood-onset chronic illnesses

Academic Article


  • Children with special health care needs born today have a 90% chance of surviving into adulthood, making their transition to adult systems of care an issue that will affect almost all physicians. However, many adult generalists and specialists are not familiar with the management of chronic diseases that begin in childhood. While the public health system has made transition to appropriate adult care a priority, and many specialty organizations have endorsed this concept, there are no published studies addressing how the concept of transition can be taught to medical students or residents. The authors describe a one-week course for medical students, begun in 2001 at their institution, that addresses the transition for youth with special health care needs, emphasizing patient and family-centered care, cultural competence, and decision making in end-of-life issues. Cystic fibrosis, a common genetic disease with increasing life expectancy, is used as the model for the course. Involvement of interdisciplinary faculty, interviews with youth with special health care needs and family caregivers, readings from academic and nonacademic literature, and group discussions are presented as teaching methods. Key insights based on experience with the course are the need to include the voices of patients and families, the use of faculty from various professions and specialties to model interdisciplinary care, and the insight that problems specific to transition offer into contemporary health care financing. Future studies should measure the impact of such courses on students' knowledge of transition issues, and determine essential information required for physicians in practice.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Academic Medicine  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Hagood JS; Lenker CV; Thrasher S
  • Start Page

  • 352
  • End Page

  • 355
  • Volume

  • 80
  • Issue

  • 4