Health-related quality of life after different types of solid organ transplantation

C. Wright Pinson, Irene D. Feurer, Jerita L. Payne, Paul E. Wise, Shannon Shockley, Theodore Speroff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

176 Scopus citations


Objective: To describe functional health and health-related quality of life (QOL) before and after transplantation; to compare and contrast outcomes among liver, heart, lung, and kidney transplant patients, and compare these outcomes with selected norms; and to explore whether physiologic performance, demographics, and other clinical variables are predictors of posttransplantation overall subjective QOL. Summary Background Data: There is increasing demand for outcomes analysis, including health-related QOL, after medical and surgical interventions. Because of the high cost, interest in transplantation outcomes is particularly intense. With technical surgical experience and improved immunosuppression, survival after solid organ transplantation has matured to acceptable levels. More sensitive measures of outcomes are necessary to evaluate further developments in clinical transplantation, including data on objective functional outcome and subjective QOL. Methods: The Karnofsky Performance Status was assessed objectively for patients before transplantation and up to 4 years after transplantation, and scores were compared by repeated measures analysis of variance. Subjective evaluation of QOL over time was obtained using the Short Form-36 (SF-36) and the Psychosocial Adjustment to Illness Scale (PAIS). These data were analyzed using multivariate and univariate analysis of variance. A summary model of health-related QOL was tested by path analysis. Results: Tools were administered to 100 liver, 94 heart, 112 kidney, and 65 lung transplant patients. Mean age at transplantation was 48 years; 36% of recipients were female. The Karnofsky Performance Status before transplantation was 37±1 for lung, 38±2 for heart, 53±3 for liver, and 75±1 for kidney recipients. After transplantation, the scores improved to 67±1 at 3 months, 77±1 at 6 months, 82±1 at 12 months, 86±1 at 24 months, 84±2 at 36 months, and 83±3 at 48 months. When patients were stratified by initial performance score as disabled or able, both groups merged in terms of performance by 6 months after liver and heart transplantation; kidney transplant patients maintained their stratification 2 years after transplantation. The SF-36 physical and mental component scales improved after transplantation. The PAlS score improved globally. Path analysis demonstrated a direct effect on the posttransplant Karnofsky score by time after transplantation and diabetes, with trends evident for education and preoperative serum creatinine level. Although neither time after transplantation nor diabetes was directly predictive of a composite QOL score that incorporated all 15 subjective domains, recent Karnofsky score and education level were directly predictive of the QOL composite score. Conclusions: Different types of transplant patients have a different health-related QOL before transplantation. Performance improved after transplantation for all four types of transplants, but the trajectodes were not the same. Subjective QOL measured by the SF-36 and the PAlS also improved after transplantation. Path analysis shows the important predictors of health-related QOL. These data provide clearly defined and widely useful QOL outcome benchmarks for different types of solid organ transplants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)597-607
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000


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