Date of Award

Spring 5-21-2016

Document Type

Doctor of Nursing Practice Final Manuscript

Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice



First Advisor

Kathleen Sweeney, DNP, CPNP

Second Advisor

Craig McDonald, M.D.


The purpose of this evidence-based project was to evaluate the feasibility of implementing an NP facilitated formal transition program for adolescents with Spina Bifida. There is an increased awareness of the need for health care transition for youth with special health care needs (YSHCN) due to the 2009-2010 Maternal Child Health Branch National Survey findings that only 40% of YSHCN receive adequate support for transition that meets the core outcome measures. Recent studies have investigated transition in youth with chronic disease specific conditions such as diabetes, cystic fibrosis, and congenital heart defects, and provide valuable insight into possible strategies for transition management. However, there is limited translation of the evidence to transition programs specific to adolescents with Spina bifida (SB) that are focused on transition readiness or knowledge related to self-care management. Adolescents with SB face many challenges due to their medical complexities and potential development of secondary health conditions as young adults. Adolescents with Spina bifida often have difficulty with knowledge acquisition, attention, organization, and problem solving, all factors that are necessary to facilitate successful healthcare transition. An NP transition program was successfully implemented into a multidisciplinary SB clinic. The results of this transition program support a structured needs assessment and specific educational interventions with this unique population. The SB healthcare transition project can serve as a model for future programs with youth that have complex medical conditions.