Psychosocial support in liver transplantation. A dyadic study with patients and their family caregivers

  • L. Entilli
  • A. Feltrin
  • B. Volpe
  • G. Germani
  • U. Cillo
  • M. Nucci
  • S. Cipolletta


Background: Our objectives were to investigate how perceived social support and tendency of either self-reliance or reliance on others correlated with emotional and physical overload, anxiety, depression and psychoticism in patients waiting for transplantation and their caregivers. Methods: 93 participants were recruited at Liver Transplantation Center of Padua Hospital: 51 patients waiting to be included in liver transplantation list (19 with alcohol-related illness) and 42 family caregivers. Both patients and caregivers filled in Kelly's Dependency Grids and Symptom Checklist (SCL-90). Patients also compiled the Medical Outcomes Study Social-Support Survey (MOS-SSS) and caregivers the Family Strain Questionnaire Short-Form (FSQ-SF). Findings: Patients' and caregivers' symptomatology positively correlated (ρ=.32, p<.05). When patients perceived more social support, their symptomatology decreased (ρ=-.31, p<.05). Family strain was higher than the mean level. The breadth of patients’ and caregivers’ networks correlated with a decrease in caregivers’ symptomatology only. In alcohol-related pathologies the caregiver's strain positively correlated with several subscales of the patients’ SCL-90 and negatively with their network extension. The dependency on one's own self correlated negatively with the symptoms of patients without alcohol problems. When caregivers depended on other people, Anxiety (ρ=. 37, p<.05) and Hostility increased (ρ=.39, p<.05). Discussion: Waiting for transplantation affects both the patient and the caregiver as a dyad. Social support and the breadth of available resources are important variables in patients’ and caregivers’ wellbeing. These results suggest the usefulness of a dyadic approach in research, prevention and care.
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