Approximately a quarter of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are diagnosed before 20 years of age, presenting with more extensive distribution and severity of disease than adult onset. The purpose of this review was to determine facilitators of, and barriers to, successful transition of patients with IBD from adolescent to adult services. A systematic review of IBD transition research was conducted in March 2014 searching PubMed, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Web of Science and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews databases. A hand search of reference lists and narrative reviews was carried out to maximise the potential for retrieving all relevant manuscripts. Primary studies written in English of full-length peer-reviewed journal articles that investigated transition of paediatric patients with IBD to adult services were included. Studies were excluded if the primary focus was not IBD. The search produced 283 potentially relevant studies. After removing duplicates and screening for suitability, six met our inclusion criteria. Barriers to transition included system inadequacies and a lack of resources, clinical time and training. Successful transition involved joint medical visits, structured transition services, improved communication between paediatric and adult services and improved education for patients and staff. If the transition process for adolescents suffering with IBD is to improve then it is vital that more research is conducted to better our understanding of ways in which we can ensure that defined protocols are in place for a smooth transition for every adolescent, leading to improved standards and minimal disruption to care.
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