Neuropsychological predictors of medication adherence and employment status following kidney transplantation

For her Master’s research, supported by a 2005 MSFHR Trainee Award, Shannon Gelb researched whether cognitive difficulties (brain functions such as memory and reasoning) exist following a kidney transplant. The research revealed that adult recipients of kidney transplants tend to perform worse than healthy individuals without transplants in tests of verbal memory (the ability to recall verbal information after a delay period) and executive functioning (activities such as multi-tasking and problem-solving). However, the impact of these results on daily life is unclear. Building on this research, Gelb is examining the relationship between cognition and two functional outcomes for kidney transplant recipients: adhering to prescribed medications and maintaining employment. Not taking medication properly, which is associated with increased risk of the body rejecting the transplanted kidney, is a significant problem among kidney transplant recipients. Employment rates among kidney transplant recipients are also poor – 59 to 83 per cent of kidney transplant recipients never return to work following kidney transplantation. The research may help clarify the potential need for increased education and patient support following kidney transplantation.