To summarize and assess literature regarding social participation of recipients after successful kidney transplantation.Methods
A systematic review including a literature search in Medline (1980–2003) and five other databases, and assessment of methodological quality of selected studies by two reviewers applying a checklist of twelve criteria.Results
Seventeen studies out of 1443 identified references were selected. Quality scores for internal validity ranged from 0% to 50% (median 20%). Employment was the most used indicator of social participation and two studies briefly reported on vacation and recreation. Employment rate ranged from 18% to 82%, however differences in defining categories of employment or lack of description were present. Study populations were heterogeneous with regard to demographic and clinical characteristics. Three studies identified pre-transplant employment status as predictor of post-transplant employment. Other potential risk factors were not consistent across studies.Conclusion
Measurement of social participation focuses mainly on employment status. Quality assessment revealed shortcomings in reporting and validity of studies, whereby valid conclusions regarding the degree of social participation after kidney transplantation cannot be drawn. Future research should supplement the focus on employment status by examining other aspects of social participation as well as potential risk factors.