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J Hepatol. 2009 Nov;51(5):949-59. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2009.07.010. Epub 2009 Jul 28.

A review of quality of life instruments used in liver transplantation.

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  • 1Division of Organ Transplantation, Department of Surgery, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.


With improvements in patient and graft survival after liver transplantation, recipient quality of life (QOL) has become an important focus of patient care and clinical outcomes research. To provide a better understanding of the instruments used to assess QOL in the adult liver transplant population, we conducted a systematic review of the MEDLINE database and Cochrane library. Our review identified 128 relevant articles utilizing more than 50 different QOL instruments. Generic health status instruments are the most commonly used, and among them the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form-36 (SF-36), the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) are the most prevalent. Few studies (16%) included targeted, disease-specific instruments. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) Quality of Life questionnaire, the Liver Disease Quality of Life questionnaire, and the Chronic Liver Disease questionnaire are the most frequently employed targeted instruments; however, these instruments have been designed to assess QOL in patients with chronic liver disease rather than patients after liver transplantation. The present review focuses on the psychometric properties of the existing QOL instruments and discusses their individual strengths and limitations in evaluating liver transplantation recipients. The lack of a gold-standard QOL instrument for liver transplant recipients is an impediment to cross-study comparisons. We conclude that the development of a QOL instrument specifically for liver transplant recipients will improve QOL assessment in this population leading to a more nuanced understanding of the factors that influence transplant recipients' well-being.

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