Background: With the improved median survival of kidney transplant recipients, there has been an increased focus on quality of life after transplantation. Employment is a widely recognized component of quality of life. To date, no study has demonstrated a link between post-transplant employment status and recipient and allograft survival after transplant.
Methods: The records from the United States Renal Data System (USRDS) and the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) from January 1, 1995, through December 31, 2002, were examined in this retrospective study. Two outcomes, allograft survival time (time between the transplantation and allograft failure or censor) and recipient survival time (time between the transplantation and recipient death or censor), were analyzed using Cox models adjusted for potential confounding factors.
Results: Compared to patients working full time at the time of transplantation, those not working by choice have a greater risk to graft [hazard ratio (HR) 1.27, p < 0.001] but not to recipient survival. A similar trend was observed in patients not working at 12 months post-transplant (HR 1.30, p < 0.001 for graft survival but not for recipient survival). However, at five-yr post-transplant not working by choice was protective to the graft (HR 0.47, p < 0.01) as compared to working full time. Results of the analysis in the patient subgroups based on the comorbidities and the overall health status were similar.
Conclusion: Employment status at the time of transplantation and in post-transplant period has a strong and independent association with the graft and recipient survival. Full time employment at the time of transplant and at one-yr post-transplant is associated with lower risk for graft failure and recipient mortality. However, working beyond the time covered by Medicare might be associated with potential risk for graft survival.