The Main Thing is to be Alive-Exploring Patients' Experiences With Weight Gain After Liver Transplantation: A Qualitative Study

Transpl Int. 2022 Apr 14:35:10256. doi: 10.3389/ti.2022.10256. eCollection 2022.


Weight gain after liver transplantation (LTx) contributes to new-onset obesity. We explored patients' experiences with gaining weight after LTx. Individual interviews were guided by open-ended questions. We analyzed transcripts with the reflexive thematic analysis approach by Braun and Clarke. The 12 participants gained 11.5 kg weight (median) over a median of 23 months after LTx. The constitutive theme "The main thing is to be alive" was a recurrent insight, captured in three facets: "The arduous path back to living" was the emotional expression of the ups and downs during a life-threatening illness to finally being grateful for the new life. "A pleasurable new phase of life" was the legitimation, reflecting the appreciation of gaining weight and returning to a healthy appearance. "I am allowed to look like this now" was the consoling facet after a time of burden due to the increased weight and frustration of being unsuccessful in losing weight. Finally, the awareness of being a LTx survivor outplayed the burden of the excess weight. Early interventions are crucial because the comforting insight "I am allowed to look like this now" may hinder further engagement in weight loss activities. Our recommendations on education and self-management support may guide clinical practice.

Keywords: behavior change; communication; education; obesity; self-management; thematic analysis.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Obesity / surgery
  • Qualitative Research
  • Survivors
  • Weight Gain