Optimal transition from child to adult services involves continuity, joint care, planning meetings and information transfer; commissioners and service providers therefore need data on how many people require that service. Although attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) frequently persists into adulthood, evidence is limited on these transitions.
To estimate the national incidence of young people taking medication for ADHD that require and complete transition, and to describe the proportion that experienced optimal transition.
Surveillance over 12 months using the British Paediatric Surveillance Unit and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Surveillance System, including baseline notification and follow-up questionnaires.
Questionnaire response was 79% at baseline and 82% at follow-up. For those aged 17–19, incident rate (range adjusted for non-response) of transition need was 202–511 per 100 000 people aged 17–19 per year, with successful transition of 38–96 per 100 000 people aged 17–19 per year. Eligible young people with ADHD were mostly male (77%) with a comorbid condition (62%). Half were referred to specialist adult ADHD and 25% to general adult mental health services; 64% had referral accepted but only 22% attended a first appointment. Only 6% met optimal transition criteria.
As inclusion criteria required participants to be on medication, these estimates represent the lower limit of the transition need. Two critical points were apparent: referral acceptance and first appointment attendance. The low rate of successful transition and limited guideline adherence indicates significant need for commissioners and service providers to improve service transition experiences.
Declaration of interest