Background: Health-related quality of life (HRQOL) reflects a patient's disease burden, treatment effectiveness, and health status and is summarized by physical, mental, and kidney disease-specific scales among end-stage renal disease patients. Although on average HRQOL improves postkidney transplant (KT), the degree of change depends on the ability of the patient to withstand the stressor of dialysis versus the ability to tolerate the intense physiologic changes of KT. Frail KT recipients may be extra vulnerable to either of these stressors, thus affecting change in HRQOL after KT.
Methods: We ascertained frailty, as well as physical, mental, and kidney disease-specific HRQOL in a multicenter prospective cohort of 443 KT recipients (May 2014 to May 2017) using Kidney Disease Quality of Life Instrument Short Form. We quantified the short-term (3 months) rate of post-KT HRQOL change by frailty status using adjusted mixed-effects linear regression models.
Results: Mean HRQOL scores at KT were 43.3 (SD, 9.6) for physical, 52.8 (SD, 8.9) for mental, and 72.6 (SD, 12.8) for kidney disease-specific HRQOL; frail recipients had worse physical (P < 0.001) and kidney disease-specific HRQOL (P = 0.001), but similar mental HRQOL (P = 0.43). Frail recipients experienced significantly greater rates of improvement in physical HRQOL (frail, 1.35 points/month; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.65-2.05; nonfrail, 0.34 points/month; 95% CI, -0.17-0.85; P = 0.02) and kidney disease-specific HRQOL (frail, 3.75 points/month; 95% CI, 2.89-4.60; nonfrail, 2.41 points/month; 95% CI, 1.78-3.04; P = 0.01), but no difference in mental HRQOL (frail, 0.54 points/month; 95% CI, -0.17-1.25; nonfrail, 0.46 points/month; 95% CI, -0.06-0.98; P = 0.85) post-KT.
Conclusions: Despite decreased physiologic reserve, frail recipients experience improvement in post-KT physical and kidney disease-specific HRQOL better than nonfrail recipients.