From Teen to Adult: Helping Them Understand Their Medical Condition
Aug 05, 2022
When you’re diagnosed with a medical condition as a child or young adult, there is a lot to learn! Education is often targeted at parents and caregivers, but as teens and young adults grow up and prepare to transfer to the adult healthcare setting, it is especially important that they understand their medical condition. This will allow them to interact productively with adult healthcare teams, improve treatment compliance, and most importantly, stay healthy and feel good!
While every medical condition has specific details that may be important to know, here are some general questions every teen and young adult with a medical condition should be able to answer as they prepare for transfer to adult care.
What medical condition do I have and what causes it?
Being able to name their condition and describe what causes it is important for clear communication of that condition to the adult care team. It can also help young people advocate for themselves in other settings like school or work.
How does my medical condition affect me?
Medical conditions affect everyone differently. It’s important that young people know how their condition affects them, what symptoms occur when the condition is not under control, and what symptoms should prompt a call or message to the medical team.
How is my medical condition treated and what side effects/interactions should I be aware of?
Knowing the names and doses of all medications and what they are for is important. It is also essential that they can look out for potential side effects and help ensure that they are not prescribed another medication or take an over-the-counter supplement that may interact with their primary therapy.
How is my medical condition monitored?
In order to learn how to take over their own medical care, they need to know information about how often they need to meet with their health care team, how often they need blood or imaging tests, and what those results mean, just for starters.
Teens and young adults, with the help of their caregivers, can use these suggestions to prepare to answer the questions above:
Most chronic conditions have excellent online educational resources – they can ask their healthcare team what resources they recommend and read them.
They can keep a list of medicines, doses, reasons for taking them, and possible side effects with them at all times. This could be in a notebook or in their smart phone.
They can ask their healthcare team to help them answer the questions above. Supporting and educating their patients is the healthcare team’s job.
Dr. Ardoin is the Chief of Rheumatology and also a member of the Rheumatology Fellowship faculty.
Hilary Michel, MD
Gastroenterology, Hepatology, & Nutrition
Hilary K. Michel, MD, is an attending pediatric gastroenterologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Her clinical interests include general pediatric gastroenterology with a focus on caring for children and adolescents with IBD. Her research interests center around providing comprehensive care to children with IBD and their families, focusing on multidisciplinary care, shared decision making and health-care transition.
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