The effectiveness of non-pharmacological interventions in improving psychological outcomes for heart transplant recipients: A systematic review

Aaron Conway, Verena Schadewaldt, Robyn Clark, Chantal Ski, David Thompson, Kate Kynoch, Lynn Doering

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    14 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Post-heart transplant psychological distress may directly hinder physiological health as well as indirectly impact on clinical outcomes by increasing unhealthy behaviors, such as immunosuppression non-adherence. Reducing psychological distress for heart transplant recipients is therefore vitally important in order to improve not only patients overall health and well-being but also clinical outcomes, such as morbidity and mortality. Evidence from other populations suggests that non-pharmacological interventions may be an effective strategy. Aim: The purpose of this study was to appraise the efficacy of non-pharmacological interventions on psychological outcomes after heart transplant. Method: A systematic review was conducted using the Joanna Briggs Institute methodology. Experimental and quasiexperimental studies that involved any non-pharmacological intervention for heart transplant recipients were included, provided that data on psychological outcomes were reported. Multiple electronic databases were searched for published and unpublished studies and reference lists of retrieved studies were scrutinized for further primary research. Data were extracted using a standardized data extraction tool. Included studies were assessed by two independent reviewers using standardized critical appraisal instruments. Results: Three studies fulfilled the inclusion and exclusion criteria, which involved only 125 heart transplant recipients. Two studies reported on exercise programs. One study reported a web-based psychosocial intervention. While psychological outcomes significantly improved from baseline to follow-up for the recipients who received the interventions, betweengroup comparisons were not reported. The methodological quality of the studies was judged to be poor. Conclusions: Further research is required, as we found there is insufficient evidence available to draw conclusions for or against the use of non-pharmacological interventions after heart transplant.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)108-115
    Number of pages8
    JournalEuropean Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


    • anxiety
    • depression
    • Heart transplant
    • quality of life
    • systematic review


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