BACKGROUND: What does it mean to adjust to a liver transplant? Quality of life research has offered an impairment model, defining adjustment as the absence of diagnosed psychological disorder or of limitations in physical functioning. Recently emerging research on posttraumatic growth testifies the prevalence of positive life changes following the life-threatening illnesses. The present study aimed to verify the presence of the posttraumatic growth process in liver transplant patients and its relationship with traditional quality of life.
METHODS: The research was a longitudinally descriptive study. A sample of 233 liver transplant patients were assessed with the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory and the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy General.
RESULTS: Over 50% of patients showed moderate-high levels in all dimensions of the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory. Further posttraumatic growth is correlated with the functional and social dimensions of quality of life construct and not with physical and emotional functioning.
CONCLUSION: These results confirmed that posttraumatic growth is related to a different definition of well-being than the one traditionally used in the assessment of quality of life. Adjustment to liver transplant is a complex and systemic process, which requires a multidisciplinary approach to be able to support and encourages adaptation through all the needed functional elements. An interesting perspective is offered by the narrative medicine approach, that highlighted the importance to pay specific attention to the words and expression used by patients related to changes in life and not only to traditional words reporting physical status.