Returning to everyday life and resuming work in one's regular occupation are common goals of transplant patients, yet not all who undergo lung transplantation can go back to work. In an original article in Deutsches Ärzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2015; 112: 213-9), Hendrik Suhling and coauthors report the findings of the first study ever performed in Germany on the percentage of lung-transplant patients who resume employment after transplantation and the reasons that keep the others from going back to work.
In a cross-sectional study, these researchers evaluated the responses to a socioeconomic questionnaire filled out by more than 530 patients who had undergone lung transplantation in 2009 or 2010. More than one in three returned to employment, but most of the employed patients worked only part-time. The employed patients reported a higher quality of life than the unemployed ones. They did not experience transplant complications such as frequent infection or organ rejection any more commonly than the others did, and they were absent from work for medical reasons only slightly more frequently than the general population. The authors recommend encouraging lung transplant patients to go back to work as long as there is no medical reason for not doing so. Physicians should allay patients' fears of medical complications and of needing to take too much time off because of illness.