Spouse/partner caregivers of liver transplant (LTx) patients play an important role both before and after transplantation. However, very little research has examined the quality of life (QOL), caregiving strain, and psychological functioning of these caregivers. In this study, we examined these outcomes and their correlates in 86 (49 pre-LTx, 38 post-LTx) spouse/partner caregivers. The physical QOL of caregivers was not impaired, and numerous caregiving benefits were identified (e.g., realizing what is important in life, discovering one's own inner strength, giving emotional support to the patient). However, a relatively high proportion of both pre-LTx and post-LTx caregivers had clinically low mental QOL (29% and 35%, respectively), low life satisfaction (45% and 32%, respectively), and high caregiving strain (59% and 81%, respectively). Both pre- and post-LTx caregivers, particularly women, had more total mood disturbance than a normative sample. Higher caregiving strain was significantly correlated with lower mental QOL, lower life satisfaction, and more mood disturbance. Overall, findings suggest that caregiving strain is prominent through the LTx spectrum. There is a need for prospective research to identify the patterns of caregiver outcomes over time and to examine the benefits of clinical interventions for caregivers.
© 2010 John Wiley & Sons A/S.