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Pre-Transition Readiness in Adolescents and Young Adults with Four Chronic Medical Conditions in South East Nigeria – An African Perspective to Adolescent Transition

Authors Ayuk AC, Onukwuli VO, Obumneme-Anyim IN, Eze JN, Akubuilo UC, Mbanefo NR, Iloh KK, Ezenwosu OU, Odetunde IO, Okafor HU, Emodi IJ, Oguonu T

Received 14 November 2019

Accepted for publication 12 February 2020

Published 11 March 2020 Volume 2020:11 Pages 29—38


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Alastair Sutcliffe

Adaeze C Ayuk, Vivian O Onukwuli, Ijeoma N Obumneme-Anyim, Joy N Eze, Uzoamaka C Akubuilo, Ngozi R Mbanefo, Kenechukwu K Iloh, Osita U Ezenwosu, Israel O Odetunde, Henrietta U Okafor, Ifeoma J Emodi, Tagbo Oguonu

College of Medicine University of Nigeria, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Ituku Ozalla, Enugu, Nigeria

Correspondence: Adaeze C Ayuk
College of Medicine University of Nigeria, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Ituku Ozalla, Enugu, Nigeria

Introduction: When a child reaches a certain age, he or she moves over to the adult physician. For this to maximally benefit the child, there has to be a process of equipping the child with skills required for taking on more responsibilities. Transitioning involves a process in which the adolescent with chronic illness is prepared ahead of time to enable them to eventually transfer to adult care with good outcomes. In high-income countries with well-organized health financing, the transitioning process begins as early as 12 years. In Africa, this process is not as organized and most hospitals would write a referral letter once the child turns 18 and transfer to adult clinic. In four of our chronic disease clinics (asthma, HIV, sickle cell anaemia and chronic kidney diseases) patients up to 24 years old are still attending the paediatric clinics. Understanding transition readiness among African adolescents remains a gap. Our findings will form a basis for informed practices for adolescent clinics in African countries.
Methods: This was a descriptive cross-sectional study of pre-transition readiness in adolescents and young adults with chronic illnesses attending four outpatient specialist clinics in a tertiary hospital in Enugu Nigeria. This was done using the validated STARx Questionnaire. Total scores were computed and scores nearer the upper limit of 90 were acceptable, while mean subdomain scores of 4 and above were considered as optimal level of transition readiness. Demographic and clinical data were also collected. Acceptability to move on to adult-oriented care was documented using binary response (yes/no). Cross tabulations were done, and likelihood ratios obtained for predictors of acceptability of transition. Significant value was set at p-value of ≤ 0.05.
Results: A total of 142 adolescents and young adults aged 12 to 24 years were studied. There were 38.0% (54), 24.6% (35), 22.5% (32) and 14.8% (21) from HIV, sickle cell anaemia, asthma and nephrology clinics, respectively. Their mean age was 15.6 years ± 2.4, and 48.6% (69) were male. The mean total transition readiness score was 56± 14 and this was not nearer the higher spectrum of total scores obtainable. Highest mean scores (3.7) occurred in the knowledge subdomain while least mean score (2) was noted in the use of medication reminders. The males had highest scores in the knowledge subdomain while the females were better informed about medication adherence and were more inquisitive about their chronic illness. Only about 37% (53) of the adolescents and young adults welcomed the idea of moving on to adult-care clinics. Children who had less frequent emergency hospital visits and better treatment outcome accepted the idea of transfer to adult care. Irrespective of the age all participants had suboptimal subdomain scores. High scores did not influence the participants’ choice to embrace transfer to adult care.
Conclusion: There is suboptimal transition readiness irrespective of the age. The older age groups were less willing to transfer to adult care. Better disease knowledge and better communication skills did not positively influence acceptability of transfer to adult care.

Keywords: adolescent, African, chronic, readiness, transition, transfer

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