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Arthritic Teens Need Help in Adult Health Care Transition

Discussions regarding specific information needed for transition to adult health care often lacking

MONDAY, Jan. 12 (HealthDay News) -- While adolescents with arthritis often discuss adult health care needs and self-management with their provider, few discuss specifics such as acquiring adult health insurance or switching to an adult provider, according to an article in the Jan. 15 issue of Arthritis Care & Research.

Peter Scal, M.D., and colleagues from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, compared the use of health care transition services from child- to adult-focused health care in 1,052 adolescents (12 to 17 years old) with arthritis, 389 adolescents with diabetes and 18,189 adolescents with special health care needs, using data taken from the 2005-2006 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs.

The researchers found that of adolescents with arthritis, 74.8 percent were encouraged by their providers to assume self-care responsibilities, 52.1 percent discussed how health needs would change in adulthood, 22.5 percent discussed acquiring health insurance as an adult and 19 percent discussed switching to an adult provider. The percentages were similar to adolescents with other special health care needs, but lower than adolescents with diabetes.

"In summary, there appears to be much room for improvement in the current health care system to assist youth with arthritis in achieving successful health care transition," Scal and colleagues conclude. "From a clinical perspective, there seems to be an opportunity to provide education to health care providers serving youth with arthritis to encourage them to engage their patients in discussions about the transfer of care to adult providers and how to acquire insurance as an adult."

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