Positive and negative aspects of mental health after unspecified living kidney donation: A cohort study

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Objectives: Unspecified donors give a kidney to a stranger with end-stage kidney failure. There has been little research on the long-term impact of unspecified donation on mental health outcomes. The aim of this study was to assess the positive and negative aspects of mental health among unspecified donors. 

Design: We invited all unspecified donors who donated a kidney between 2000 and 2016 at our centre to participate in an interview and to complete validated questionnaires. 

Methods: We measured positive mental health using the Dutch Mental Health Continuum-Short Form (MHC-SF), psychological complaints using the Symptoms Checklist-90 (SCL-90) and psychiatric diagnoses using the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview (M.I.N.I.) Screen for all donors and the M.I.N.I. Plus on indication. 

Results: Of the 134 eligible donors, 114 participated (54% female; median age 66 years), a median of 6 years post-donation. Scores on emotional and social well-being subscales of the MHC-SF were significantly higher than in the general population. Psychological symptoms were comparable to the general population. Thirty-two per cent of donors had a current or lifetime psychiatric diagnosis. Psychological symptoms did not significantly change between the pre-donation screening and the post-donation study. 

Conclusions: We concluded that, with the appropriate screening, unspecified donation is a safe procedure from a psychological perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374 - 389
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Health Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date22 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - May 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge Louiza van Raalten for help with conducting interviews. There was no external funding for this study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. British Journal of Health Psychology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Psychological Society.


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