The transplant process can be an emotionally difficult time for patients and their families. Therefore, many transplant teams across the country, including Loyola, have psychologists as part of the transplant team. Often patients are confused about the rationale for seeing a psychologist during the work-up for a medical procedure. Research has shown that prior history of mood problems, substance use issues, lack of social support and noncompliance are all associated with worse medical outcomes after surgery. Psychologists can help to identify and address these issues prior to transplant to help improve outcomes.
A transplant psychologist’s main roles are to conduct an initial evaluation to determine patients’ candidacy for transplant from a psychosocial perspective, and to provide ongoing supportive follow-up throughout the waiting, recovery and rehabilitative phases of transplant.
During the initial evaluation, patients may be asked questions about their current lifestyle, mood, coping skills, social support, adherence to doctors’ recommendations and overall functioning. This information is invaluable to the treatment team before and after your transplant surgery because it provides clues about how the patient will react in high-stress situations and insight into the patient’s coping strengths and weaknesses. The goal is not to find reasons why the patient should not be approved for transplant. Instead, the goal is to identify areas that need to be addressed to help patients do well with transplant. Our transplant psychologists are committed to providing the necessary care to help patients function and cope adequately during all phases of the transplant process.