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Nursing Care for Patients with Congenital Heart Disease During Follow-Up: Transfer and Transition

  • Serena Francesca Flocco
  • Eva Goossens
Chapter

Abstract

The developmental transition from childhood to adulthood is a complex process in the life of every youngster. This developmental process appears to be, however, more challenging and complex for children who are born with a congenital heart disease (CHD), because they not only have to deal with dynamics, changes, and difficulties characterizing adolescence, but also the consequences of their chronic condition and the need to adhere to lifelong follow-up care. Adolescence, with its prominent physical, biological, hormonal, psychological, and behavioral changes, is considered the most critical transitional phase of life. During this stage of life, patients with CHD, as compared to “healthy” adolescents, should learn how to integrate their medical condition with their identity and future lifestyle.

Hence, accompanying an adolescent afflicted with CHD from adolescence toward adulthood requires focused attention not solely to their medical needs but also to existential needs and academic and vocational pursuits, getting ready for the job market, having meaningful recreational activities and/or sports, and establishing a family when desired. Over the past decades, attention from healthcare professionals shifted from ensuring survival during the first years of life towards achievement of an acceptable quality of life for patients with CHD in the longer run.

Over the past decades, various national and international specialized heart centers developed clinical care pathways dedicated to these specific transitional needs of adolescents suffering from a congenital heart defect. Such programs create a bridge between the worlds of the child who grows into a teenager and that of the (emerging) adult.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pediatric and Adult Congenital Heart Disease CenterIRCCS Policlinico San Donato University HospitalSan Donato Milanese (MI)Italy
  2. 2.Department of Public Health and Primary CareAcademic Center for Nursing and Midwifery, KU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  3. 3.Research Foundation Flanders (FWO)BrusselsBelgium

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