Tools, Techniques to Assess Organ Transplant Candidates: Address Anxiety, Depression, and Substance Abuse before and after Surgery

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With nearly 30,000 organ transplants being performed in the United States each year, demand is growing for psychiatrists to provide presurgical and ongoing care.

How you might collaborate with a transplant team depends on each medical center’s protocols and individual patients’ mental health needs. A transplant candidate with depressive or anxiety symptoms may be referred to you for presurgical stabilization, for example, particularly if the patient lives far from a highly specialized transplant center.

Transplant assessments differ from usual psychiatric evaluations. Your findings will be used to help the transplant team evaluate the patient’s demographics, disease severity, and resources to give the patient the best chance for medical recovery. Inform patients at the beginning of the pretransplant evaluation that the results:

  • will be shared with the transplant team
  • may be used to help make decisions about transplant
  • will not be the only factor determining if a transplant center will place a patient on an organ wait list.