Background: Lung transplants have been performed worldwide since the early 1980s. While numerous studies have been published on somatic aspects after lung transplantation, there is considerably less information available on psychosocial aspects and on the correlation between the physical and the psychosocial state of health after transplantation.
Methods: Between 1992 and 2002, 125 patients underwent lung transplantation at University Hospital Zurich. To be included into the study, patients had to have received a lung transplant > 12 months previously and to have good knowledge of the German or Italian languages. With the aid of standardized questionnaires, psychosocial variables such as levels of anxiety and depression, self-esteem, and social support were determined. In addition, self-assessments of physical and psychological health were obtained. The medical data included information on FEV1, complications such as pulmonary infections, acute or chronic allograft rejection, and assessment of the patient’s physical and psychological health by the treating doctors.
Results: The overall degree of anxiety and depression of the lung transplant recipients was comparable to standard samples of an average population. However, male lung transplant recipients were significantly more depressed than female recipients. Self-esteem was higher than in clinical comparison samples. Preceding pulmonary complications had long-lasting effects on the level of anxiety, whereas nonpulmonary complications did not have such an effect.
Conclusions: Overall, the psychological well-being of patients after lung transplantation is similar to the normal population. Subgroups of patients with increased psychological distress have been identified.