Stress and quality of life in the renal transplant patient: a preliminary investigation


Dinah Gould, Senior Lecturer in Nursing Studies, Department of Nursing Studies, King's College London, Cornwall House, Waterloo Road, London SE1 8WA, England


End-stage renal disease is a chronic condition which reduces the life-span of its victims. At present there is no cure. Renal transplantation, currently the treatment of choice for many patients, is potentially associated with a number of drawbacks: constant risk of rejection, especially during the first six months, the need to comply with a complex regime of medication capable of producing pronounced side-effects and the need for ongoing medical supervision. Despite these problems, little research has been undertaken with patients following renal transplantation. The aim of the small-scale, exploratory study reported here was to explore patients’perceptions of stress and quality of life at different stages following a first, functioning renal graft: within six months, between one and five years and over five years later (n = 10 in each group). From the results it became apparent that patients had a number of concerns, of which fear of rejection was the most frequently mentioned, followed by stress generated through altered body image (a product of immunosuppressive therapy). Nevertheless, all reported a significant increase in quality of life after transplantation, although improvement was least marked in patients in the intermediate group (1–5 years after surgery) who also experienced most stress. A larger scale study is recommended to increase the validity of findings which clinicians could then use to design patient interventions to enhance quality of care and quality of life.