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Pediatric Liver Transplantation Affects Patients and Families

Quality of life declines and stress increases, but demographic variables may have most impact

WEDNESDAY, April 2 (HealthDay News) -- After pediatric liver transplantation, children aged 5 and over have compromised physical function and their parents have higher levels of stress. Although transplant families do not generally appear to have a higher level of family dysfunction, this may not be true for all demographic groups, according to a report published in the April issue of Liver Transplantation.

Estella M. Alonso, M.D., of Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, and colleagues compared heath-related quality-of-life data on 102 patients who achieved two-year survival and 134 controls.

Compared to controls, the researchers found that patients aged 5 and over scored lower in physical health, general health, parental emotional impact and disruption of family activities, and that patients aged 2 to 5 scored lower in global health and general health perceptions. The investigators also observed significant associations between Family Assessment Device scores and demographic variables such as race, parental marital status and socioeconomic status.

"The transplant experience impacts the entire family, but it is most important to examine the experience from the perspective of the patient," the authors conclude. "However, we must also acknowledge that the child lives within a family context that shapes his or her understanding of health and well-being. Therefore, future assessments of health-related quality of life in this population should include the perspective of the patient and both of their parents to yield the fullest understanding of their health status and adjustment to post-transplant medical care."

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