Background: With continuously rising survival rates following renal transplantation, health-related quality of life (HQOL) of long-term transplant survivors becomes increasingly important.
Methods: Recipients more than 15 years after successful renal transplantation were studied retrospectively. HQOL in 139 long-term transplant recipients was assessed using the SF-36 and the disease-specific kidney transplant questionnaire (KTQ-25).
Results: Long-term transplant recipients revealed satisfactory HQOL that was comparable to the healthy population in four of eight SF-36 categories (role physical, social functioning, role emotional and mental health). Other SF-36 categories such as physical functioning, physical pain, general health, and vitality were reduced. Among the study population, disease-specific HQOL was comparable or even improved to that of patients awaiting transplantation. In contrast to retired or unemployed patients, employed recipients revealed a highly significant improved HQOL in numerous SF-36 categories such as physical functioning (P<0.001), physical pain (P<0.001), general health (P<0.001), vitality (P<0.001), social functioning (P<0.005), and mental health (P<0.001), as well as for the KTQ-dimensions physical symptoms (P<0.001), fatigue (P>0.001), uncertainty/fear (P<0.01), and emotions (P<0.05). Other factors positively correlating with improved HQOL in certain dimensions were living situation, systolic blood pressure, and recipient age.
Conclusions: More than 15 years after renal transplantation, recipients present satisfactory HQOL comparable to the general healthy population or at least to pretransplant patients. Vocational rehabilitation following renal transplantation is of highest importance among long-term survivors and is associated with improved HQOL.