Psychological outcome and quality of life following liver transplantation: A prospective, national, single-center study



Liver transplantation is a well-established treatment for liver failure. Prolongation in survival is accepted, but long-term effects of liver transplantation on cognitive and psychological outcome are unclear. In the present study, psychological data were prospectively collected for 164 patients who were assessed for liver transplantation. Memory impairment, psychomotor slowing, anxiety, and depression were commonly observed. Severity of liver disease at assessment was significantly associated with slowing of reaction time. Memory impairment distinguished those who were not listed for transplantation because of illness severity. One year posttransplantation, follow-up data from transplant recipients showed significant improvement in most psychological domains relative to both healthy comparison participants and patients with chronic liver disease who did not undergo transplantation. Immunosuppression (cyclosporine versus tacrolimus) did not have differential effects on quality of life, fatigue, or affective status, although those administered cyclosporine showed greater improvements at 1-year follow-up on simple and choice reaction times. Elevated levels of anxiety and neuroticism at pretransplantation assessment were associated with worse psychosocial outcome at 1 year posttransplantation. Severity of liver disease was not related to psychological outcome at 1 year. Good psychological outcome at 1 year was maintained at the 3-year follow-up. (Liver Transpl 2003;9:712-720.)