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Psychosocial Support in Liver Transplantation: A Dyadic Study With Patients and Their Family Caregivers

Background and aims: Liver transplantation provides an opportunity of survival for patients with liver failure; however, this procedure is known to be psychologically and physically fatiguing for patients and their informal caregivers. The aim of this study was to investigate how perceived social support and the distribution of dependency were associated with the psychological wellbeing of patients waiting for liver transplantation and their caregivers, as a dyad. Methods: The present was a cross-sectional study. Ninety-five participants were recruited at a hospital in Northern Italy, during the psychological evaluation for inclusion in the transplantation list: 51 patients (19 with alcohol-related illness) and 44 family caregivers. Both patients and caregivers filled in a Symptom Checklist and Kelly's Dependency Grids. Patients also compiled the Medical Outcome Study Social-Support Survey, and caregivers compiled the Family Strain Questionnaire Short-Form. Results: Caregivers reported important levels of strain and strongly related to a worsening of their own and patients' symptoms. Patients with alcohol-related pathologies had a narrower social network, which corresponded to an increase in family strain. On the sample as a whole, regression analyses showed that perceived social support and dependency measures did not predict patients' and caregivers' symptoms. Nevertheless, cluster analysis identified a group of caregivers who distributed their dependency more and experienced lower levels of depression, anxiety, and strain. Conclusions: These results suggest the usefulness of a dyadic approach in the research, prevention, and care of liver diseases. A deeper comprehension of the functioning of dyads will help practitioners in the identification of situations at risk.

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Journal article
Frontiers Research Foundation
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Frontiers In Psychology
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