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Psychosomatics. 2001 Jan-Feb;42(1):55-62.

Alcohol use following liver transplantation: a comparison of follow-up methods.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, PA, USA.


Alcoholic cirrhosis is one of the most common indications for liver transplantation. Previous researchers have studied rates of return to drinking following transplantation, however, few have employed prospective measures of alcohol use. The authors prospectively studied the alcohol use of patients transplanted for alcoholic liver disease. The authors improved the accuracy of monitoring alcohol use by using various methods for tracking patient's alcohol consumption, and we report on the time to first alcohol use after transplantation comparing these different methods. The authors found that alcohol use can occur very early after transplantation, even within the first 3 months posttransplant. Thirty-eight percent of the patients consumed any alcohol after transplantation. The clinical interviews by the psychiatrist were the most successful method for identifying posttransplant alcohol use. Posttransplant alcohol use was significantly associated with prior nonalcohol substance use (P < 0.025), family history of alcoholism in a first-degree relative (P < 0.025), and prior alcohol rehabilitation experience (P < 0.05) but not with a prior psychiatric history or less than 6 months of pretransplant sobriety. The authors indicate that prospective monitoring, using a combination of methods, is the most accurate approach to identify alcohol consumption. With this type of accuracy, risk factors can be identified and alcohol use can be compared with alcohol-related morbidity posttransplant.

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