Association of Frailty With Health-Related Quality of Life in Liver Transplant Recipients

Jennifer C. Lai*, Amy M. Shui, Andres Duarte-Rojo, Robert S. Rahimi, Daniel R. Ganger, Elizabeth C. Verna, Michael L. Volk, Matthew Kappus, Daniela P. Ladner, Brian Boyarsky, Dorry L. Segev, Ying Gao, Chiung Yu Huang, Jonathan P. Singer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Importance: Frailty has been recognized as a risk factor for mortality after liver transplant (LT) but little is known of its association with functional status and health-related quality of life (HRQL), termed global functional health, in LT recipients. Objective: To evaluate the association between pre-LT and post-LT frailty with post-LT global functional health. Design, Setting, and Participants: This prospective cohort study was conducted at 8 US LT centers and included adults who underwent LT from October 2016 to February 2020. Exposures: Frail was defined by a pre-LT Liver Frailty Index (LFI) score of 4.5 or greater. Main Outcomes and Measures: Global functional health at 1 year after LT, assessed using surveys (Short Form-36 [SF-36; summarized by physical component scores (PFC) and mental component summary scores (MCS)], Instrumental Activities of Daily Living scale) and performance-based tests (LFI, Fried Frailty Phenotype, and Short Physical Performance Battery). Results: Of 358 LT recipients (median [IQR] age, 60 [53-65] years; 115 women [32%]; 25 [7%] Asian/Pacific Islander, 21 [6%] Black, 54 [15%] Hispanic White, and 243 [68%] non-Hispanic White individuals), 68 (19%) had frailty pre-LT. At 1 year post-LT, the median (IQR) PCS was lower in recipients who had frailty vs those without frailty pre-LT (42 [31-53] vs 50 [38-56]; P =.002), but the median MCS was similar. In multivariable regression, pre-LT frailty was associated with a -5.3-unit lower post-LT PCS (P <.001), but not MCS. The proportion who had difficulty with 1 or more Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (21% vs 10%) or who were unemployed/receiving disability (38% vs 29%) was higher in recipients with vs without frailty. In a subgroup of 210 recipients with LFI assessments 1 year post-LT, 13% had frailty at 1 year post-LT. Recipients who had frailty post-LT reported lower adjusted SF-36-PCS scores (coefficient, -11.4; P <.001) but not SF-36-MCS scores. Recipients of LT who had frailty vs those without frailty 1 year post-LT also had worse median (IQR) Fried Frailty Phenotype scores (1 [1-2] vs 1 [0-1]) and higher rates of functional impairment by a Short Physical Performance Battery of 9 or less (42% vs 20%; P =.01). Conclusions and Relevance: In this cohort study, pre-LT frailty was associated with worse global functional health 1 year after LT. The presence of frailty after LT was also associated with worse HRQL in physical, but not mental, subdomains. These data suggest that interventions and therapeutics that target frailty that are administered before and/or early post-LT may help to improve the health and well-being of LT recipients..

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-138
Number of pages9
JournalJAMA surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 8 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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