ICBM: Caregiver Relationship Predicts Post-Transplant Anxiety

Depression, anxiety reduced after liver transplant, but improvement is attenuated by emotional distance
By Monica Smith
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Aug. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Many patients with end-stage liver disease (ESLD) have less depression and anxiety after receiving a liver transplant, but this improvement is attenuated in individuals with emotionally distant caregiving relationships, according to research presented at the International Congress of Behavioral Medicine, held from Aug. 4 to 7 in Washington, D.C.

Anne Eshelman, Ph.D., of the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, and colleagues surveyed 74 patients with ESLD before liver transplant and six months' post-op, and asked their primary caregivers what degree of closeness they felt in their relationship.

The researchers found that caregivers reporting maximum closeness were in the majority (44 versus 30). Depression and anxiety decreased after transplant, but more so in the patients whose caregivers reported emotionally close relationships. Gender was a confounding variable, and further analysis suggested emotional closeness was more important for improvement in men than in women.

"For patients with ESLD, depression and anxiety decline sharply after liver transplant, but declines are attenuated for individuals with emotionally distant caregiving relationships. These findings suggest caregiving relationships as a target for psychotherapeutic intervention among patients with ESLD," the authors write.

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