Facilitating the transition of young people with chronic illness to adult medicine

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September 13, 2017
Marie-Pascale Pomey

A mentoring program is being launched to help young adults make a smooth transition from pediatric to adult medicine.

Starting in September, young patients with heart defects who are preparing to leave the CHU Sainte-Justine for the Montreal Heart Institute will be able to take advantage of a new mentoring program. Two Université de Montréal professors are spearheading this unprecedented initiative and implementation, and will study its effects. Having recently received the funding that marks the beginning of the project, they already hope to make the experience a permanent one, so that other specialties can benefit from it.  

A difficult transition 

A loss of bearings and a lack of familiarity with the new teams can induce palpable feelings of apprehension when the time comes to make the transition from pediatric to adult care. “Patients leave an environment where the team has known them for a while, often for several years, and where they have established a relationship of trust with the medical staff, and suddenly find themselves in a more impersonal world, where they have to once again create relationships with new people,” observed Marie-Pascale Pomey, a professor at the Université de Montréal’s School of Public Health and a researcher at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM).

Learning from people who have already gone through this experience 

To better support young people during this transition, Dr. Pomey and Dr. Anne Fournier, from the CHU Sainte-Justine, are implementing a mentoring program. “We thought that other patients who have already gone through this experience would be able to help them,” commented Dr. Fournier. By leveraging their experience, they will be able to provide emotional support to young patients and help them better understand their illness and how adult health care is organized. 

Other specialties may be able to take advantage of it 

The program, carried out jointly by the pediatric team at the CHU Sainte-Justine and the adult medicine team of the Montreal Heart Institute, has received funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and co-funding from the Fonds BoBeau Cœur of the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation. 

“Thanks to this grant, we will be able to test this new model on our patients with congenital heart defects. If the results are positive, we will be able to implement it permanently in cardiology, as well as in other specialties,” commented Dr. Pomey, enthusiastically.

About Marie-Pascale Pomey

La Dre Pomey est professeure au Département de gestion, d’évaluation et de politique de santé de l’École de santé publique de l’Université de Montréal, chercheuse au Centre de recherche du Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CRCHUM) et médecin de santé publique à l’Institut national d’excellence en santé et en services sociaux. Ses travaux de recherche portent sur l’engagement des patients à tous les échelons de gouvernance du système de santé. 

About Anne Fournier

Dr. Fournier is a pediatric cardiologist at the CHU Sainte-Justine, where she monitors children with pacemakers and ICDs. She is also responsible for the cardiology clinic of the Centre de réadaptation Marie-Enfant. With the co-operation of parents of the children with heart disease, she established the Fondation québécoise pour les enfants malades du cœur, also called “En Cœur”.

About the Fonds BoBeau Cœur

The mission of the Fonds BoBeau Cœur is to promote applied clinical research in pediatric, congenital and fetal cardiology at the CHU Sainte-Justine. Under the scientific direction of Dr. Nagib Dahdah since July 2015, its aim is to fund clinical research through patronage. A $15,000 start-up subsidy was provided by the Fonds BoBeau Cœur for the mentoring project. 

Related links

CHU Sainte-Justine

Université de Montréal’s School of Public Health

CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation’s Fonds BoBeau Coeur

Université de Montréal Public Health Research Institute