Psychosocial functioning in pediatric heart transplant recipients and their families

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Abstract

Across pediatric organ transplant populations, patient and family psychosocial functioning is associated with important health-related outcomes. Research has suggested that pediatric heart transplant recipients and their families are at increased risk for adverse psychosocial outcomes; however, recent investigation of psychosocial functioning in this population is lacking. This study aimed to provide a contemporary characterization of psychosocial functioning in pediatric heart transplant recipients and their families. Associations between psychosocial function, demographic variables, and transplant-related variables were investigated. Fifty-six parents/guardians of pediatric heart transplant recipients completed a comprehensive psychosocial screening measure during transplant follow-up clinic visits. Descriptive statistics, correlational analyses, and independent samples t tests were performed. Forty percent of pediatric heart transplant recipients and their families endorsed clinically meaningful levels of total psychosocial risk. One-third of patients presented with clinically significant psychological problems per parent report. Psychosocial risk was unassociated with demographic or transplant-related factors. Despite notable improvements in the survival of pediatric heart transplant recipients over the past decade, patients and families present with sustained psychosocial risks well beyond the immediate post-transplant period, necessitating mental health intervention to mitigate adverse impact on health-related outcomes.

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