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Keywords:

  • Cardiothoracic transplant;
  • caregivers;
  • psychosocial resources;
  • quality of life

Cardiothoracic transplant programs generally require that transplant recipients have family caregivers to assist them posttransplant. The burden of caregiving on the family members remains poorly understood. If caregivers’ well-being is compromised by caregiving, it may bode poorly for transplant recipients’ own health in the long-term posttransplant. We examined caregiver health-related quality of life (HRQOL) during the first year after their family member's transplant, its predictors and its relationship to subsequent patient survival. Adult (aged 18+) caregivers of 242 cardiothoracic transplant recipients (lung = 134; heart = 108) completed assessments of demographics, psychosocial characteristics and caregiver burden at 2 months posttransplant, and HRQOL at 2, 7 and 12 months posttransplant. Recipients’ survival time was obtained from medical records. Caregiver HRQOL was generally high across the first-year posttransplant in emotional and social functioning; caregiver physical functioning significantly worsened. There were no differences by type of recipient transplant. Greater caregiver burden predicted poorer caregiver HRQOL in several physical domains at 12 months posttransplant. Transplant recipients whose caregivers had lower perceived general health at 12 months posttransplant showed poorer survival rates during the subsequent 7 years of follow up. Transplant teams should identify those caregivers at risk for poorer general health posttransplant to maximize positive outcomes for the entire family.