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Transition to adult care for youths with diabetes mellitus: findings from a universal healthcare system


Objectives — The goals were (1) to describe rates of diabetes mellitus (DM)-related hospitalizations and retinopathy screening before and after transition to adult care and (2) to test whether different methods of transfer of care were associated with improved outcomes.

Methods — In a retrospective cohort study, we included 1507 young adults with DM of >or=5-year duration and tracked these patients until 20 years of age.

Results — DM-related hospitalization rates increased from 7.6 to 9.5 cases per 100 patient-years in the 2 years after transition to adult care (P = .03). Previous DM-related hospitalizations, lower income, female gender, and living in areas with low physician supply were associated with higher admission rates. With controlling for all other factors, individuals who were transferred to a new allied healthcare team with no change in physician were 23% less likely (relative risk: 0.23 [95% confidence interval: 0.05-0.79]) to be hospitalized after the transition than were those transferred to a new physician with either a new or no allied healthcare team. The rates of eye examinations were stable across the transition to adult care (72% vs 70%; P = .06). Female patients, patients with higher income, and patients with previous eye care were more likely to have an eye care visit after transfer.

Conclusions — During the transition to adult healthcare, there is increased risk of DM-related hospitalizations, although this may be attenuated in youths for whom there is physician continuity. Eye care visits were not related to transition; however, rates were below evidence-based guideline recommendations.



Nakhla M, Daneman D, To T, Paradis G, Guttmann A. Pediatrics. 2009; 124(6):e1134-41. Epub 2009 Nov 23.

Contributing ICES Scientists