Health-related quality of life in haematopoietic stem cell transplant survivors: a qualitative study on the role of psychosocial variables and response shifts

Qual Life Res. 2011 Mar;20(2):153-60. doi: 10.1007/s11136-010-9737-y. Epub 2010 Sep 8.


Purpose: Psychosocial assessment prior to haematopoietic stem cell transplants (HSCT) can help to identify patients at risk of impaired health-related quality of life (HRQOL) post-transplant. According to the response-shift model, certain antecedents and mechanisms, along with changes in internal standards, values or conceptualizations of HRQOL, facilitate adjustment to changes in health circumstances. This study sought to explore the role of psychosocial variables in adjustment to compromised HRQOL following HSCT, from the theoretical basis of the response-shift model.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 28 patients (15 women, 13 men; 22-71 years), post-HSCT. Time since transplant ranged from 1 month to 28 years. Verbatim transcripts were analysed using template analysis.

Results: Patients provided narrative examples of changing their values and internal standards. Optimism, social support, social comparisons, changing expectations and setting goals were identified as important in managing threats to HRQOL.

Conclusions: The response-shift model is a useful theoretical basis for exploring HRQOL in HSCT patients. Response shifts and psychosocial variables may help patients to cope and enabling them to experience good HRQOL despite the negative effects of HSCT. Understanding the adjustment processes has implications for patient care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Young Adult