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01-06-2015 | Uitgave 6/2015

Quality of Life Research 6/2015

Defining novel health-related quality of life domains in lung transplantation: a qualitative analysis

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 6/2015
Jonathan Paul Singer, Joan Chen, Patricia P. Katz, Paul David Blanc, Marjorie Kagawa-Singer, Anita L. Stewart
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1007/​s11136-014-0875-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Health-related quality of life (HRQL) domains vary across disease conditions and are determined by standards, values, and priorities internal to patients. Although the clinical goals of lung transplantation are to improve patient survival and HRQL, what defines HRQL in lung transplantation is unknown. Employing a qualitative approach, we aimed to identify HRQL domains important in lung transplantation.


We conducted semi-structured interviews in purposefully sampled lung transplant recipients (n = 8) representing a spectrum of ages, gender, indications for transplantation, and time since transplantation as well as healthcare practitioners representing a spectrum of practitioner types (n = 9). Grounded theory was used to identify HRQL domains important in lung transplantation, building on but going beyond domains already defined in the SF-36, the most commonly used instrument in this population.


In addition to confirming the relevance of the eight SF-36 domains, we identified 11 novel HRQL domains. Palliation of respiratory symptoms was identified as important. After transplant surgery, new HRQL domains emerged including: distressing symptoms spanning multiple organ systems, worry about infection and acute rejection, treatment burden, and depression. Further, patients identified challenges to intimacy, changes in social relationships, and problems with cognitive functioning. Saliently, worry about limited life expectancy was pervasive and impaired life planning.


We found that HRQL in lung transplantation is defined by both generic and transplant-specific domains. Delineating and refining these domains can inform efforts to improve clinical outcomes and HRQL measurement in lung transplantation.

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