Aim. To investigate perceptions of graft rejection and different methods to obtain knowledge about graft rejection among adult organ transplant recipients.
Background. Rejection is the most common cause of graft loss and graft dysfunction in clinical transplantation. Little is known about the recipients’ own explanation models related to graft rejection.
Method. A strategic selection included patients who had undergone a kidney, liver, heart or lung transplant. Sixteen patients, six males and 10 females, aged 21–63 years with a follow-up time of between three months and 10 years were interviewed.
Results. The result comprised five domains of variations in perceptions of graft rejection: the abstract threat to life; the concrete threat to health; trust in the body; striving to control the threat; and one’s identity. The inner perspective and personal explanation models involved threat, fear, trust, control and identity adjustment. Different approaches had the same purpose; ‘striving to control the uncontrollable’.
Conclusion. Learning about graft rejection revealed security, lack of security and uncertainty.
Relevance to clinical practice. The inner perspective of graft rejection in this result leads to several clinical implications in terms of patient education and recipients’ differing ways of obtaining knowledge about graft rejection. We suggest that patient’s education should be tailored in a different way, offering support and advice in line with their personal models of explanation of graft rejection as a complement to the explanation from the biomedical model of disease.