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Moving towards wellness: designing for the chronically ill 'emerging adult'

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Overview: Transition from the pediatric to adult care setting for 'emerging adults' (ages 18- 26) continues to develop as a growing concern in health care. The Adolescent Transition Program teaches

Overview: Transition from the pediatric to adult care setting for 'emerging adults' (ages 18- 26) continues to develop as a growing concern in health care. The Adolescent Transition Program teaches chronically ill 'emerging adults' disease self-management skills while promoting a healthy lifestyle. Transferring this knowledge is vital for successful health care outcomes. Unfortunately, patients who have been transferred to the adult care setting, report that they felt lost in the system due to lack of communication between care teams, inadequate support systems, and insufficient disease management knowledge. To address these gaps, the design of the physical environment must adapt to these challenges while also meeting the needs of various chronic illnesses. Methodology: Design thinking or human-centered design was utilized as the vehicle to discover unmet 'emerging adult' and adolescent health clinician needs. Ethnographic research methods involved observations at adolescent health clinics and in learning environments outside of the healthcare setting as well as interviews with 5 outpatient adolescent clinicians. A survey was also conducted with 16 'emerging adults' to understand how they learn. Lastly, a literature review explored the history of the adolescent, adolescent development, adolescence and chronic illness, and The Adolescent Transition Program. Results: Findings revealed that physical environment must be conducive to meet a variety of clinical and education activities such as chronic disease management, support adolescent development, and should be more human-centered. The space should transform to the patient education or clinical activity rather than the activity transforming to the space. Five design recommendations were suggested to ensure that the outpatient clinic supported both clinician and 'emerging adults' needs.

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  • 2014