Fitness Among Transplant Professionals
Dr. Gomathy Narasimhan
Senior Consultant, Abdominal Trauma, HPB Surgery, Liver and Renal Transplantation, Dr. Rela Institute & Medical Centre, Chennai
Healthcare professionals and health – Interestingly they don’t seem to go hand in hand when it comes to the “Health of Healthcare professionals”. This has been shown in any number of studies. The reasons quoted in a survey among healthcare professionals from Greece published in 2019 are lack of time (58%), erratic schedules (41%) and pure negligence (37%).
Let us for a moment apply these reasons to the life of a transplant professional and we see all these factors multiplied by a factor of ten or more. Are we then setting the stage for higher incidence of “lack of health” among transplant professionals???
Well, let us view the same situation from the disease and the patient perspective. The epidemiology of the disease process leading to transplantation is predominantly non communicable disease (NCD). In liver transplantation too, the focus has now shifted from infective aetiology to Non-alcoholic steato hepatitis (NASH) or Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which falls under the category of NCD. The outcome of this group of patients depends not just in the immediate success of transplantation but in the long-term survival and quality of life. This can only be achieved by constant education by the transplant professional to the patient about the need to follow preventive measures (Healthy Lifestyle!) which will help avoid recurrence of the original disease in the transplanted organ. A 2013 study published in the International journal of obesity concluded that providers perceived to be overweight or unhealthy may be vulnerable to biased attitudes from patients, and that providers' excess weight and lack of fitness may negatively affect patients' perceptions of their credibility, level of trust and inclination to follow medical advice. As a result, the responsibility to stay healthy is multiplied for a transplant professional as opposed to a healthcare professional in another speciality. How can we go about this given that at least two of the factors quoted in the Greek study are REAL in the field of transplantation? The new physical activity strategy for the WHO European region (2016 -2025) seeks to initiate efforts at every administrative level to promote exercise among all age groups and throughout their lives. Several innovative methods have been adopted by programs world over to promote health awareness among transplant professionals considering the long work hours and the frequent emergency procedures that must be undertaken. One such is the availability of a gymnasium inside the hospital premises at Seoul university. Very often, a small spark or a trigger is what is required to get a “health awareness” epidemic started in a unit. It then follows a cascade where teams register for runs, sign up at a nearby gymnasium to get a quick workout in between the long day’s schedule, the cafeteria gets sensitised to the “low carb - high protein” requirement of the health-conscious professionals and so on and so forth.
In the words of Mr. Nagaraj, a post liver transplant patient who recently participated in the world transplant games held in UK “When I told my doctors I was walking 5 km every day after my transplant, they encouraged me to participate in the World Transplant Games and I did a half marathon. I took the advice from my doctors very earnestly because I have seen them discuss fitness-related matters among themselves and their office displays their participation in sporting events etc. It was a huge inspiration to me.” I don’t think we, as transplant professionals, are left with much of a choice – we must take care of our health both in our own interest and in our patient’s interest!
- Copyright © 2021. Published by MOHAN Foundation
- Keywords: Healthcare professionals, lack of health, epidemiology, non communicable disease, health awareness, World Transplant Games, half marathon