Increased Prevalence of Gastrointestinal Symptoms Associated with Impaired Quality of Life in Renal Transplant Recipients

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Immunosuppressive therapies have been associated with gastrointestinal (GI) side effects, which may impair health-related quality of life (HRQoL).


In this survey, 4,232 renal transplant recipients from Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden completed the Short-Form 36 (SF-36) questionnaire and the Gastrointestinal Symptom Rating Scale (GSRS). SF-36 scores were compared with country norm values. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to identify immunosuppressants associated with GI symptoms.


The prevalence of troublesome GI symptoms (GSRS>1) was 83% for indigestion, 69% for abdominal pain, 58% for constipation, 53% for diarrhea, 47% for reflux, and 92% for any GI symptom. Compared with the general population, HRQoL was most commonly meaningfully impaired in the general health dimension (53% of patients). The presence and severity of GI symptoms were associated with worse HRQoL. Tacrolimus showed a significant association with diarrhea (odds ratio [OR]: 1.7; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.4–2.0) and constipation (OR: 1.3; 95% CI: 1.1–1.6), and sirolimus with indigestion (OR: 2.9; 95% CI: 1.0–8.1) and abdominal pain (OR: 2.2; 95% CI: 1.1–4.4).


GI symptoms are associated with impaired HRQoL in the renal transplant population. Managing GI symptoms by careful choice of immunosuppressants should be a focus for improving HRQoL in renal transplant recipients.

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