Care of adolescents and young adults with diabetes – much more than transitional care: a personal view

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Abstract

There is increasing recognition that type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) acquired in childhood and adolescence requires a sophisticated approach that facilitates better self-management through adherence to generic principles in managing chronic disease in this age group, allied to the complex clinical needs of managing T1DM and related conditions. Transitional care should be seen as a process over time supported by both paediatric and adult diabetologists within a multidisciplinary team, given the complementary skills that can be brought to bear. Undoubtedly, there is a need for more effective training of all healthcare professionals working in this service. However, the accumulation of older teenagers over time and new diagnoses in those aged 19 years or more confirms that a new paradigm is necessary for the successful care of young adults beyond transitional care. Traditional clinical models will often not work for those in employment and higher education, with evidence that ongoing engagement following transfer to adult services often ceases. The alarming evidence of progressive complications in T1DM of longer duration in patients under the age of 40 years is a wake-up call to transform the care of this most vulnerable group.

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