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Quality of recipient–caregiver relationship and psychological distress are correlates of self-care agency after lung transplantation


  • Conflict of interest: The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.

Corresponding author: Annette DeVito Dabbs, PhD, RN, FAAN, University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, 336 VB, 3500 Victoria Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA.

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Self-care behaviors are crucial for following the complex regimen after lung transplantation, yet little is known about recipients' levels of self-care agency (the capability and willingness to engage in self-care behaviors) and its correlates. We examined levels of self-care agency and recipient characteristics (socio-demographics, psychological distress, quality of relationship with primary lay caregiver, and health locus of control) in 111 recipients. Based on Perceived Self-Care Agency scores, recipients were assigned to either the low- or high-self-care agency comparison group. Characteristics were compared between groups to identify characteristics likely to be associated with lower-self-care agency. Mean (SD) score for self-care agency (scale range, 53–265) was 223.02 (22.46). Recipients with lowest-self-care agency scores reported significantly poorer quality of caregiver relationships (p < 0.001) and greater psychological distress (p < 0.001). After controlling for psychological distress, the quality of the recipient–caregiver relationship remained significantly associated with self-care agency. Every one-point decrease in the quality of caregiver relationship increased the risk of low-self-care agency by 12%. Recipients with poorer caregiver relationships and greater psychological distress may need additional support to perform the self-care behaviors expected after lung transplantation.

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