The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation
International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation.

Long term employment following heart transplantation in the United States

Published:January 05, 2023DOI:


      Employment is an important metric of post-transplant functional status and the quality of life yet remains poorly described after heart transplant. We sought to characterize the prevalence of employment following heart transplantation and identify patients at risk for post-transplant unemployment.


      Adults undergoing single-organ heart transplantation (2007-2016) were evaluated using the UNOS database. Univariable analysis was performed after stratifying by employment status at 1-year post-transplant. Fine-Gray competing risk regression was used for risk adjustment. Cox regression evaluated employment status at 1 year with mortality.


      Of 10,132 heart transplant recipients who survived to 1 year and had follow-up, 22.0% were employed 1-year post-transplant. Employment rate of survivors increased to 32.9% by year 2. Employed individuals were more likely white (70.8% vs 60.4%, p < 0.01), male (79.6% vs 70.7% p < 0.01), held a job at listing/transplant (37.6% vs 7.6%, p < 0.01), and had private insurance (79.1% vs 49.5%, p < 0.01). Several characteristics were independently associated with employment including age, employment status at time of listing or transplant, race and ethnicity, gender, insurance status, education, and postoperative complications. Of 1,657 (14.0%) patients employed pretransplant, 58% were working at 1-year. Employment at 1year was independently associated with mortality with employed individuals having a 26% decreased risk of mortality.


      Over 20% of heart transplant patients were employed at 1 year and over 30% at 2 years, while 58% of those working pretransplant had returned to work by 1-year. While the major predictor of post-transplant employment is preoperative employment status, our study highlights the impact of social determinants of health.



      SF-36 (36-Item Short Form Survey), UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing), STAR (Standard Transplant Analysis and Research), CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease), OPTN (Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network)
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