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Clin Transplant. 2002 Dec;16(6):455-60.

Emotional issues after kidney transplantation: a prospective psychotherapeutic study.

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1
Department of Surgery, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Negative emotional states are the single most influential factor in determining quality of life after a successful kidney transplant. We designed a prospective study using psychotherapeutic principles to understand and intervene in emotional issues in adult recipients of first cadaver kidney transplants.

METHODS:

Forty-nine recipients of first cadaver kidney transplants were subjected to 12 sessions (at weekly intervals) of psychotherapy within 3 months of receiving their transplant. The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) was utilized as a measure of change in emotional state, pretherapy, at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months. A higher score on BDI was suggestive of psychological dysfunction. In the first instance, data was analysed within a quantitative framework, by virtue of the BDI. In the second instance, data was considered in terms of recurring themes described by patients during psychotherapy and was analysed qualitatively. In the third instance, both qualitative and quantitative data was considered in terms of individual patient's ability to achieve some feeling of having implemented some social, relational and vocational equilibrium into their everyday life. Recipients of live kidneys, paediatric transplants and patients who received more than one transplant were excluded, as emotional issues are different in this cohort of patients. All patients have completed 1 yr of follow up. None of the patients were on antidepressant medication before or after therapy.

RESULTS:

This is an ongoing study in which we are comparing individual vs. group therapy vs. controls (who receive no therapy). The total number of patients recruited will be 120 and the final report will be available in 2003-04. The results reported in this paper form the 49 patients in the individual arm of the study. All the patients in our study happened to be white people. There was significant improvement in the BDI scores following therapy. The mean score was 26.3 +/- 7.9 before and 20.5 +/- 8.8 after therapy (p = 0.001); the lowering of the scores remained sustained at 12 months. Multivariate analysis of age, gender, employment status, duration of dialysis (if in dialysis for more than 3 yrs) and psychotherapy given before transplantation did not affect the results of our study. For the qualitative aspect of the study, we grouped the emotional problems as expressed by the patients into three recurring themes (i) fear of rejection, (ii) feelings of paradoxical loss post-transplant despite having received a successful transplant and (iii) the psychological integration of the newly acquired kidney.

CONCLUSIONS:

Psychotherapeutic intervention was an effective means of addressing emotional problems in recipients of kidney transplants. The recurring themes as identified above provided a baseline for psychotherapeutic exploration and resolution of these issues. Successful resolution of these issues was associated with lower BDI scores and the redefinition of normality in daily living post-transplant.

PMID:
12437627
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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