High rate of unemployment after liver transplantation: analysis of the United Network for Organ Sharing database

Liver Transpl. 2012 Jan;18(1):89-99. doi: 10.1002/lt.22408.


The goal of liver transplantation (LT) is to maximize the length and quality of a patient's life and facilitate his or her return to full productivity. The aims of this study were (1) to use the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) data set to determine the proportions of recipients who were employed and unemployed within 24 months after LT between 2002 and 2008 and (2) to examine the factors associated with a return to employment. UNOS data that were collected since the adoption of the Model for End-Stage Liver Disease scoring system on February 27, 2002 were analyzed. There were 21,942 transplant recipients who met the inclusion criteria. The employment status of the recipients was analyzed within a 60-day window at the following times after transplantation: 6, 12, and 24 months. Approximately one-quarter of the LT recipients (5360 or 24.4%) were employed within 24 months after transplantation, and the remaining recipients had not returned to work. The demographic variables that were independently associated with posttransplant employment included an age of 18 to 40 years, male sex, a college degree, Caucasian race, and pretransplant employment. Patients with alcoholic liver disease had a significantly lower rate of employment than patients with other etiologies of liver disease. The recipients who were employed after transplantation had significantly better functional status than those who were not employed. In conclusion, the employment rate after LT is low, with only one-quarter of LT recipients employed. New national and individual transplant program policies are needed to assess the root causes of unemployment in recipients who wish to work after LT.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Databases, Factual
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Diseases / epidemiology
  • Liver Diseases / etiology
  • Liver Diseases / surgery*
  • Liver Transplantation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Racial Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Unemployment / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult