A transition clinic intervention to improve follow-up rates in adolescents and young adults with congenital heart disease

Gaydos SS, Chowdhury SM, Judd RN, McHugh KE.
Cardiol Young. 2020 Apr 13:1-8. doi: 10.1017/S1047951120000682. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 32279695
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Background: Children with congenital heart disease (CHD) require lifelong cardiology follow-up. Many experience gaps in care around the age of transition to adult-oriented care with associated comorbidity. We describe the impact of a clinic-based intervention on follow-up rates in this high-risk population.

Methods: Patients ≥11 years seen in a paediatric outpatient CHD Transition Clinic completed self-assessment questionnaires, underwent focused teaching, and were followed on a clinic registry with assessment of care continuation. The cohort “lost to follow-up” rate, defined as absence from care at least 6 months beyond the recommended timeframe, was compared with a control group. Secondary outcomes included questionnaire scores and adult cardiology referral trends.

Results: Over 26 months, 53 participants completed an initial Transition Clinic visit; 43% (23/53) underwent a second visit. Median participant age was 18.0 years (interquartile range 16.0, 22.0). The cohort’s “lost to follow-up” rate was 7.3%, which was significantly lower than the control rate (25.9%, p < 0.01). Multivariable regression analyses demonstrated clinic participation as the only factor independently associated with follow-up rates (p = 0.048). Transition readiness was associated with older age (p = 0.01) but not sex, univentricular heart, interventional history, or surgical complexity. One-third of adult participants transferred to adult care.

Conclusions: A CHD Transition Clinic intervention can improve follow-up rates in adolescents and young adults. Age is an important factor in transition readiness, and retention of adults in paediatric care appears multi-factorial. We postulate that serial assessments of self-management, focused education, and registry utilisation may improve patient outcomes by reducing lapses in care.