Transplant Patients Can Benefit From Loved Ones' Care

TUESDAY Aug. 10, 2010 -- Transplant patients who have a close emotional connection with family members or other caregivers experience less depression and anxiety after surgery, new research has found.

The study included 74 liver transplant patients and their primary caregivers who were surveyed before surgery and six months after transplantation. Caregivers were asked to rate how close they felt to the patient, and the sample was divided into a group whose caregivers reported the most closeness and a group whose caregivers reported the least.

Symptoms of depression and anxiety decreased among the patients after their liver transplant, but the improvements weren't as significant for those with an emotionally distant caregiver, according to the researchers from the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

"If you live with someone who loves you, the quality of care they provide may be much better, they may be more encouraging, you may want to please them and recuperate faster so you can spend quality time with them," lead author Anne Eshelman, of the Henry Ford Health System Behavioral Health Services, said in a hospital news release.

"Caregivers who are not close may provide the basic requirements, but don't help give someone a reason to live and look to the future," she added.

The study findings also indicated that emotional closeness was critical in male patients, but less so for women (although the researchers pointed out that interpretation of the results was difficult due to the small sample size).

"Men who had an adequate number of support people, but did not have close support, were still depressed and anxious at follow-up, compared to those who had closer support," Eshelman said. "Other literature shows that women have wider support, more friends and family they are connected to than men, and if the primary support person is not that close, they probably rely on the other people such as girlfriends."

The study was scheduled for presentation Aug. 6 at the International Congress of Behavioral Medicine in Washington, D.C.

More information

The American Society of Transplantation has more about health after transplantation.

Posted: August 2010


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