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Original article

Vol. 150 No. 2930 (2020)

Predictors of long-term employment among patients with cystic fibrosis undergoing lung transplantation

Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2020;150:w20286



Lung transplantation is an established therapy in selected patients with advanced cystic fibrosis lung disease. Resumption of employment after lung transplantation is generally supported. In Switzerland, there are no data on long-term employment in people with cystic fibrosis undergoing lung transplantation.


In a single-centre, cross-sectional study at a Swiss university hospital, clinical data from lung transplant recipients with cystic fibrosis, covering the transplantation period from January 1996 to December 2016, were analysed retrospectively. The potential influence of pre-lung transplantation factors (age, sex, lung function, body mass index, six-minute walk test distance, lung transplantation wait list time, paid employment on the wait list, education, relationship status, housing situation) and post-lung transplantation factors (chronic allograft dysfunction [CLAD], dialysis, cancer diagnosis [except skin cancer]) on paid employment and work percentage after lung transplantation were investigated using mixed logistic and linear regression models. Descriptive analyses of paid employment were performed for various periods after lung transplantation (<1, 1–3, 3–5, 5–10, >10 years). Data are reported as odds ratios (ORs) or coefficients (β) with their 95% confidence intervals (CIs).


Eighty-four subjects (46.4% female) with a mean ± SD age of 29.9 ± 8.4 years were included in the study. Mean wait time for lung transplantation was 42.7 ± 40.2 weeks. The number (percentage) of subjects employed <1 year, 1–3 years, 3–5 years, 5–10 years and >10 years after lung transplantation was n = 23 (28%), n = 51 (65%), n = 44 (75%), n = 30 (68%) and n = 21 (75%), respectively. In mixed logistic regression models, pre-lung transplantation paid employment (OR 24.03, 95% CI 6.08 to 164.39, p <0.0001), academic education (OR 7.81, 95% CI 1.66 to 48.66, p = 0.01) and time post lung transplantation (on log scale, OR 5.81, 95% CI 3.15 to 12.78, p <0.0001) were the main factors influencing post-lung transplantation paid employment status. In mixed linear regression models, pre-lung transplantation paid employment (β = 21.40, 95% CI 10.98 to 31.81, p = 0.00014), academic education (β = 12.54, 95% CI 0.48 to 24.55, p = 0.05) and time post lung transplantation (on log scale, β = 8.96, 95% CI 6.17 to 11.82, p <0.0001) were the main factors influencing work percentage post lung transplantation. No evidence for an influence of clinical factors such as CLAD, cancer or dialysis on post-lung transplantation employment and work percentage was found.


Pre-transplant employment is the dominant factor influencing lung transplantation employment in people with cystic fibrosis. People with cystic fibrosis undergoing lung transplantation should be encouraged to work for as long as their health status permits. Professional reintegration after successful lung transplantation should be supported by a multi-disciplinary lung transplant team.


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