Background: Advances in immunosuppressive therapeutics and medical technology have improved survival rates after heart transplantation. Although there is a rigorous schedule of outpatient visits and testing to detect early signs of rejection and other complications in the first year after transplantation, repeated unplanned readmissions of heart transplant recipients remains a challenge. Objective: This study aimed to compare the effects of specialized nurse-led discharge education, including continuous post-transplant education and counselling, on heart transplant recipients' clinical outcomes, with the effects of existing discharge education. Methods: Participants were 136 heart transplantation recipients at a university-affiliated hospital in South Korea from November 1, 1994, to November 30, 2018. Participants' electronic medical records were retrospectively analyzed. Participants were grouped according to usual care (n = 25), nurse-led program (n = 66), and nurse-led program with post-discharge education (n = 45). We assessed the number of outpatient visits with clinical problems and days to first unplanned rehospitalization within one year after transplantation. Results: The nurse-led program with post-discharge education was associated with significantly reduced outpatient visits with clinical problems, compared to usual care and the existing nurse-led program. We also found a significantly longer time until first unplanned rehospitalization in the nurse-led program with post-discharge education group, compared to the usual care group. Conclusion: This study identified the heart transplantation-specialized nurse-led discharge and subsequent post-discharge education as an effective strategy for positive clinical outcomes within one year after heart transplantation.
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