Introduction: As the proportion of males with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) surviving into adulthood increases, more information is needed regarding their health care transition planning, an essential process for adolescents and young adults with DMD. The objective of this study was to describe the health care transition experiences of a population of males living with Duchenne or Becker muscular dystrophy (DBMD).
Methods: The eligible participants, identified through the Muscular Dystrophy Surveillance Tracking and Research Network (MD STARnet) surveillance project, were 16–31 years old and lived in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, or western New York (n=258). The MD STARnet Health Care Transitions and Other Life Experiences Survey was conducted in 2013 and administered online or in a telephone interview. Sixty-five males (25%) completed the survey. Among non-ambulatory males, response differences were compared by age group. Statistical comparisons were conducted using Fisher’s exact test, or when appropriate, the Chisquare test.
Results: Twenty-one percent of non-ambulatory males aged 16–18 years, 28% of non-ambulatory males aged 19–23 years, 25% of non-ambulatory males aged 24–30 years, and 18 ambulatory males had a written transition plan. Nineteen percent of non-ambulatory males aged 24–30 years had delayed or gone without needed health care in the past 12 months. Among non-ambulatory males aged 24–30 years, 75% had cardiology providers and 69% had pulmonology providers involved in their care in the past 12 months. Twentyeight percent of non-ambulatory males aged 19–23 years and 25% of non-ambulatory males aged 24–30 years reported that they did not receive health care or other services at least once because they were unable to leave their home. Non-ambulatory males aged 16–18 years (29%) were less likely to have ever discussed how to obtain or keep health insurance as they get older compared to non-ambulatory males aged 24-30 years (69%) (p <0.01).
Discussion: This study identified potential barriers to the successful health care transition of males with DBMD. The results of this study may indicate a lack of targeted informational resources and education focused on supporting the transition of young men with DBMD as they age from adolescence into adulthood within the healthcare system. Future studies could determine the reasons for the potential barriers to health care and identify the optimal transition programs for males with DBMD. There are a few online resources on transition available to adolescents and young adults with special health care needs.