Ambulatory Care Use among Patients with Spina Bifida: Change in Care from Childhood to Adulthood

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Purpose:We examined the ambulatory health care visit use of children with spina bifida, adults who transitioned to adult care and adults who continued to seek care in a pediatric setting.Materials and Methods:We evaluated use during a 1-year period of patients with spina bifida who visited any outpatient medical clinic within an integrated health care system. Patients were categorized as pediatric (younger than 18 years) or adult (age 18 or older). Adults were divided into those who did not fully transition to adult care and patients who fully transitioned (adult). Frequency and type of health care use were compared. Subanalysis was performed for patients 18 to 25 years old to examine variables associated with successful complete transition to adult care.Results:During 1 year 382 children, 88 patients who did not transition and 293 adult patients with spina bifida had 4,931 clinic visits. Children had greater ambulatory care use (7.25 visits per year) compared to fully transitioned adults (5.33 visits per year, p=0.046). Children more commonly visited surgical clinics (52.3% of visits) and adults more commonly visited medical clinics (48.9%) (p <0.005). Adult transitioned patients were more likely to be female (p=0.004). Of the patients 18 to 25 years old, those who did not transition to adult care had similar outpatient visit types but greater use of inpatient and emergency care than those who transitioned.Conclusions:Children with spina bifida used more ambulatory care than adults and were more likely to visit a surgical specialist. Adult patients with spina bifida who successfully transitioned to adult care were more likely to be female, and patients who failed to transition were more likely to receive more inpatient and emergency care.

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