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Study indicates a connection between sociodemographic characteristics and the recovery of liver transplant recipients

Together with UTSW mentor Amit G. Singal, M.D., M.S., Professor of Internal Medicine, member of the Division of Digestive and Liver Diseases and the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center, Medical Director of the Liver Tumor Program, and Chief of Hepatology, Dr. Lieber oversaw the study that was published in Liver Transplantation.


For the thousands of Americans who suffer from liver disorders or injuries each year, transplantation offers a chance at recovery. According to Dr. Lieber, even though more than 70% of patients who undergo this operation live for at least five years, their rehabilitation may be difficult on a physical, emotional, and psychological level. Adapting to a new life after a liver transplant requires stringent medication adherence, regular clinical monitoring, and unanticipated problems.

To better understand what factors influence survivorship, Dr. Lieber and colleagues emailed surveys to hundreds of patients who received liver transplants between January 1990 and November 2019 and were followed at the University of North Carolina Liver Transplant Center.

The surveys collected sociodemographic information such as age, sex, race, ethnicity, education level, and income; pre-transplant characteristics such as reason for transplantation, waitlist time, and psychiatric history; and post-transplant characteristics including length of hospital stay, employment status, and whether patients had a caregiver.


They also included survey questions validated for other chronic conditions to assess the patients’ abilities to positively cope as well as their level of post-traumatic growth (the ability to adapt and grow after a traumatic event), resiliency, and symptoms of anxiety and depression.

The researchers received 191 completed surveys from patients with a broad span of survival periods ranging from less than a year post-transplant to more than 10 years. A majority of respondents were male (about 64%) and Caucasian (about 84%) and ranged from 28 to 83 years old.

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