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Transplantation. 1992 Feb;53(2):433-8.

Social rehabilitation and return to work after cardiac transplantation--a multicenter survey.

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Oklahoma Transplantation Institute, Baptist Medical Center, Oklahoma City 73112.


As the medical results of heart transplantation steadily improve, the social rehabilitation of patients, in particular, their ability to return to some form of employment, is becoming increasingly important. Two-hundred fifty patients were therefore surveyed at 7 heart transplant centers (5 of which were Medicare certified) from different geographic regions in the U.S.A. Over all, 45% were employed, 36% were unemployed, 13% were medically disabled, and 6% were retired. Of those employed, 87% had returned to their previous employment, and only 13% had secured new employment. Of the unemployed, 16% had made job applications, and no fewer than 63% had no current plan to seek employment. Factors found to negatively influence a return to work included the following: (1) length of medical disability prior to transplantation; (2) a patient's self-perception of being physically unable to work; and (3) the potential loss of health insurance and/or disability income. At 2 centers, where there was a definite policy of not supporting a patient's claim for medical disability in the absence of an absolute indication, there were significantly increased numbers who (1) secured new employment and (2) planned to seek employment. More serious attention must be paid to aspects of employment if heart transplant recipients are to become fully productive members of the community.

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