People who have kidney transplants need longer-term support than most friends, relatives or even healthcare professionals realise, according to a study of 160 patients published in the December issue of the UK-based Journal of Advanced Nursing.
Researchers surveyed 55 patients who had undergone surgery in the last year, together with 105 who had had surgery in the last one to three years at the Vanderbilt Transplant Center in Tennessee, USA. They wanted to see if there was any difference in how they perceived factors such as their health, the side effects of medication to prevent rejection of the new organ, social support and quality of life.
"We discovered that, in general, patients reported higher levels of social support in the first year after surgery than they did one to three years after their transplant" says lead researcher Dr Hongxia Liu, who is now based at the College of Nursing at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. "They also felt more positive about what they could achieve and their ability to cope in the first year after surgery.
"Our findings point to the need for more social support in the later transplant period, together with interventions to alleviate bothersome medication side effects and further research on how to manage them.
"We would also like to see further interventions by renal transplant nurses to help patients cope more effectively in the post-transplant period and make them feel more positive about their health and what they can achieve."
All the patients had a functioning kidney transplant at the time of enrolment, which averaged 4.5 months since surgery in the first group and 26.3 months in the second group.
Participants averaged just under 48 years of age (range 18 to 75), 54 per cent were male and there were no statistically significant differences in age, gender, marital status, race or education level between the two groups.
Sixty per cent of pa
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