To examine current US performance on transition from pediatric to adult health care and discuss strategies for improvement.


The 2009–2010 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs is a nationally representative sample with 17 114 parent respondents who have youth with special health care needs (YSHCN) ages 12 and 18. They are asked about transition to an adult provider, changing health care needs, increasing responsibility for health care needs, and maintaining insurance coverage. We analyzed the association of selected characteristics with successful transition preparation.


Overall, 40% of YSHCN meet the national transition core outcome. Several factors are associated with transition preparation, including female gender; younger age; white race; non-Hispanic ethnicity; income ≥400% of poverty; little or no impact of condition on activities; having a condition other than an emotional, behavioral, or developmental condition; having a medical home; and being privately insured.


Most YSHCN are not receiving needed transition preparation. Although most providers are encouraging YSHCN to assume responsibility for their own health, far fewer are discussing transfer to an adult provider and insurance continuity. Although changes in sample design limit trend analysis, there have been no discernible improvements since this transition outcome was measured in the 2005–2006 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs. The 2011 release of the American Academy of Pediatrics/American Academy of Family Physicians/American College of Physicians clinical recommendations on transition, new transition tools, and the spread of medical home should stimulate future improvements in transition performance.

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