German Program Aims to Help Young IBD Patients Move Safely to Adult Care

German Program Aims to Help Young IBD Patients Move Safely to Adult Care

A new way of transitioning pediatric inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients to adult care — known as the  Berliner Transitions Programme (BTP) — is being presented as way to improve patient quality of life by focusing on the care given young IBD patients across Europe.

The BTP initiative was established in Germany with support from the Robert Bosch Foundation. The program was developed by the DRK Clinics of Berlin with the goal of accompanying adolescents  as they settle safely into specialized adult IBD care and centers. Children enrolling in the program receive two years of specialized care, which involves close collaboration between pediatric and adult healthcare professionals.

The program includes other long-term pediatric conditions besides IBD, such as juvenile diabetes, epilepsy and asthma. Every time a new patient is enrolled, a case manager is assigned to take care of the practical issues, maintain contact with the patient throughout the process, and ensure that the patient is comfortable with the treatment. For a certain period of time, the transition program includes the possibility of seeing both the pediatric and adult treatment team.

“Following the success of results in other disease areas, IBD was incorporated into the programme two years ago. Transitioning programmes are initiated in the pediatric setting and involve a gradual process aimed at building the young person’s understanding of their condition to help prepare them and their families for a move into adult care. So far, our experience demonstrates that the young people who have taken part have arrived into adult care very positively,” Professor Britta Siegmund, a member of the BTP Task Force who discussed the findings at UEG Week 2016, said in a press release.

One in every four IBD cases is diagnosed during childhood, Siegmund said, and more than half of these patients believe their condition negatively affects their education. “With the change of care occurring at such a crucial age for our patients, it highlights the importance of a smooth and supportive transition to enable young adults to lead normal lives and prevent the disease from impacting their education and lifestyle,” she said.

Siegmund added that the BTP initiative provides the materials, structure, and support needed to transition children safely, and hoped would be adopted across Europe.

“The BTP can serve as a role model that can be adapted to the health service of each country. One of the critical success factors for the programme is to ensure that children are transitioned into the care of specialists who really understand adolescents and are willing to invest the time in them,” she said.