Background/aims: We have previously shown that prior to liver transplantation, patients exhibit impairment in memory and psychomotor speed. Despite significant improvement following transplantation, recovery remained incomplete at 1 year post-transplant. This study aimed to investigate the effects of liver transplantation on a wider range of cognitive abilities, and to assess the impact of any impairment upon day-to-day functioning, particularly driving ability.
Methods: This study was a between-group design involving three groups of participants: liver transplant candidates, liver transplant recipients and healthy controls. All participants completed measures of affective status, functional capacity, quality of life, neuropsychological status and driving ability.
Results: For the majority of measures, healthy controls performed best, followed by liver transplant recipients and then liver transplant candidates, respectively. This pattern was most pronounced with respect to functional limitations, language and attention. No significant difference between the three groups was observed for simulated driving ability.
Conclusions: The results suggest that while significant recovery occurs in many areas of psychosocial functioning following liver transplantation, this recovery may be incomplete, that is, many patients do not recover to their full pre-illness status. The measure we employed to assess driving ability was not a sensitive or discriminating measure in this study.