Impact of psychosocial comorbidities on clinical outcomes after liver transplantation: Stratification of a high-risk population

Neil Bhogal, Amaninder Dhaliwal, Elizabeth Lyden, Fedja Rochling, Marco Olivera-Martinez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background Liver transplantation is the accepted standard of care for end-stage liver disease due to a variety of etiologies including decompensated cirrhosis, fulminant hepatic failure, and primary hepatic malignancy. There are currently over 13000 candidates on the liver transplant waiting list emphasizing the importance of rigorous patient selection. There are few studies regarding the impact of additional psychosocial barriers to liver transplant including financial hardship, lack of caregiver support, polysubstance abuse, and issues with medical noncompliance. We hypothesized that patients with certain psychosocial comorbidities experienced worse outcomes after liver transplantation. Aim To assess the impact of certain pre-transplant psychosocial comorbidities on outcomes after liver transplantation. Methods A retrospective analysis was performed on all adult patients from 2012-2016. Psychosocial comorbidities including documented medical non-compliance, polysubstance abuse, financial issues, and lack of caregiver support were collected. The primary outcome assessed post-transplantation was survival. Secondary outcomes measured included graft failure, episodes of acute rejection, psychiatric decompensation, number of readmissions, presence of infection, recidivism for alcohol and other substances, and documented caregiver support failure. Results For the primary outcome, there were no differences in survival. Patients with a history of psychiatric disease had a higher incidence of psychiatric decompensation after liver transplantation (19% vs 10%, P = 0.013). Treatment of psychiatric disorders resulted in a reduction of the incidence of psychiatric decompensation (21% vs 11%, P = 0.022). Patients with a history of polysubstance abuse in the transplant evaluation had a higher incidence of substance abuse after transplantation (5.8% vs 1.2%, P = 0.05). In this cohort, 15 patients (3.8%) were found to have medical compliance issues in the transplant evaluation. Of these specific patients, 13.3% were found to have substance abuse after transplantation as opposed to 1.3% in patients without documented compliance issues (P = 0.03). Conclusion Patients with certain psychosocial comorbidities had worse outcomes following liver transplantation. Further prospective and multi-center studies are warranted to properly determine guidelines for liver transplantation regarding this highrisk population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)638-645
Number of pages8
JournalWorld Journal of Hepatology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2019


  • Liver transplantation
  • Noncompliance
  • Psychosocial decompensation
  • Recidivism
  • Transplant psychiatry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology


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