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Healthcare use during transfer to adult care among youth with chronic conditions


Objective — To compare healthcare use and costs for youth with chronic health conditions before and after transfer from pediatric to adult healthcare services.

Methods — Youth born in Ontario, Canada, between April 1, 1989, and April 1, 1993, were assigned to 11 mutually exclusive, hierarchically arranged clinical groupings, including “complex” chronic conditions (CCCs), non-complex chronic conditions (N-CCCs), and chronic mental health conditions (CMHCs). Outcomes were compared between 2-year periods before and after transfer of pediatric services, the subjects’ 18th birthday.

Results — Among 104 497 youth, mortality was highest in those with CCCs, but did not increase after transfer (1.3% vs 1.5%, P = .55). Costs were highest among youth with CCCs and decreased after transfer (before and after median [interquartile range]: $4626 [1253–21 435] vs $3733 [950–16 841], P < .001); Costs increased slightly for N-CCCs ($569 [263–1246] vs $589 [262–1333], P < .001), and decreased for CMHCs ($1774 [659–5977] vs $1545 [529–5128], P < .001). Emergency department visits increased only among youth with N-CCCs (P < .001). High-acuity emergency department visits increased CCCs (P = .04) and N-CCCs (P < .001), but not for CMHC (P = .59), who had the highest visit rate. Among the 11 individual conditions, costs only increased in youth with asthma (P < .001), and decreased (P < .05) in those with neurologic impairment, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, and mood/affective disorders.

Conclusions — Pediatric transfer to adult care is characterized by relatively stable short-term patterns of health service use and costs among youth with chronic conditions.



Cohen E, Gandhi S, Toulany A, Moore C, Fu L, Orkin J, Levy D, Stephenson AL, Guttmann A. Pediatrics. 2016; 137(3):1-9. Epub 2016 Feb 23.

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