Background: Pancreatic islet transplantation (PIT) has proven effective in achieving insulin independence, but to date, the impact of PIT on health-related quality of life (HRQL) has not been studied.
Methods: Ten patients who have undergone PIT at our institution were administered three HRQL questionnaires: the Hypoglycemia Fear Survey, the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36), and a fatigue questionnaire. HRQL was assessed before PIT, then 3, 6, and 12 months after PIT. Responses were compared by analysis of variance and paired Student's t tests.
Results: Hypoglycemia Fear Survey responses demonstrated that hypoglycemia-related anxiety and hypoglycemia-related behavior modification occurred less frequently after PIT (P=0.003 and 0.0001, respectively). The total scores of the hypoglycemia questionnaire were also significantly improved after PIT, from a median score of 156 points before transplantation to 55 points 3 months after PIT (P=0.004), 38 points 6 months after PIT (P=0.001), and 69 points 12 months after PIT (P=0.04). The median scores of all SF-36 components also improved after PIT. No significant changes were seen in the fatigue symptoms as assessed by the fatigue questionnaire.
Conclusion: PIT recipients have less anxiety about the symptoms and consequences of hypoglycemia. PIT recipients also indicate that their behavior requires significantly less modification to prevent or treat hypoglycemia after PIT compared with before PIT. Further investigation is needed to determine whether PIT improves generic measures of HRQL.