Predictors of post-traumatic psychological growth in the late years after lung transplantation

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Background:Although lung transplantation improves quality of life, most psychosocial research focuses on adverse psychological and social functioning outcomes. Positive effects, particularly in the late-term years as physical morbidities increase, have received little attention. We provide the first data on a psychological benefit – post-traumatic growth (PTG) – and we focused on long-term (>5 yr) survivors.Methods:Among 178 patients from a prospective study of mental health during the first two yr post-transplant, we recontacted survivors 6–11 yr post-transplant. We assessed PTG (i.e., positive psychological change resulting from the transplant) and examined its relationship to other patient characteristics with multivariable regression analyses.Results:Sixty-four patients (86% of survivors) were assessed (M = 8.1 yr post-transplant, SD = 1.2). Mean PTG exceeded the scale's midpoint (M = 38.6, SD = 10.0; scale midpoint = 25). Recipients experiencing greater PTG were female (p = 0.022), less educated (p = 0.014), and had a history of post-transplant panic disorder (p = 0.005), greater friend support (p = 0.048), and better perceived health (p = 0.032). Neither other pre- or post-transplant mood and anxiety disorders nor transplant-related morbidities (acute rejection, bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome) predicted PTG.Conclusions:PTG exceeded levels observed in other chronic disease populations, suggesting that lung transplantation may uniquely foster positive psychological change in long-term survivors. PTG occurs despite physical and psychiatric morbidities. Whether PTG promotes other positive post-transplant psychosocial outcomes deserves attention.

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