Changes in quality of life after liver transplantation among adults. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) Liver Transplantation Database (LTD)

Liver Transpl Surg. 1997 Mar;3(2):93-104. doi: 10.1002/lt.500030201.


Quality of life is an important factor to consider when assessing the value of liver transplantation. Using a large, prospective database of liver transplantation recipients from three clinical centers in the United States, we examined the quality of life of 346 adults before and 1 year after surgery. Five quality of life domains were evaluated (measures of disease, psychological distress and well-being, personal function, social/role function, and general health perception) with standardized questionnaires completed according to established protocol. The largest numbers of patients were distressed by fatigue and muscle weakness, both before transplantation and 1 year after surgery. Compared to baseline, recipients at follow-up noted fewer disease-related symptoms (P < .001) and lower levels of distress overall (P < .001). However, levels of distress due to excess appetite (P < .001), headaches (P = .02), and poor/blurred vision (P = .05) were more likely to increase than decrease. Although 57% to 64% of the recipients were distressed by each of the psychological conditions examined at follow-up, distress was more likely to decrease than increase (P < .001), and well-being was comparable to the general population. All measures of personal functioning improved significantly (P < .05). Fifty-eight percent of the patients prevented by their disease from going to work or school before transplantation were no longer so limited at follow-up. With the exception of marriage (P = .23), all facets of social/role functioning improved more often than worsened (P < .01). Perception of health improved remarkably, with 13.4 times as many recipients reporting improved health as reporting worse health (P < .001). We conclude that liver transplantation markedly improves the quality of life of patients with end-stage liver disease.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Fatigue / psychology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Headache / psychology
  • Humans
  • Liver Transplantation / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Weakness / psychology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life*
  • Social Adjustment
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vision Disorders / psychology