Associations between executive functioning, personality, and posttraumatic stress symptoms in adolescent solid organ transplant recipients

Mary Gray Stolz, Kelly E. Rea, Grace K. Cushman, Lauren F. Quast, Ana M. Gutierrez-Colina, Cyd Eaton, Ronald L. Blount

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Pediatric solid organ transplant recipients are susceptible to posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS), given the presence of a life-threatening chronic medical condition and potential for complications. However, little is known about what individual characteristics are associated with an increased risk for PTSS among youth who received an organ transplant. The aim of the current study was to evaluate PTSS and its associations with executive functioning (EF) and personality (i.e., neuroticism and conscientiousness) among adolescents with solid organ transplants. Methods: Fifty-three adolescents (Mage = 16.40, SD = 1.60) with a kidney, heart, or liver transplant completed self-report measures of PTSS and personality, whereas caregivers completed a caregiver-proxy report of adolescent EF. Results: Twenty-two percent of adolescent transplant recipients reported clinically significant levels of PTSS. Higher EF difficulties and neuroticism levels, and lower conscientiousness levels were significantly associated with higher PTSS (rs −.34 to.64). Simple slope analyses revealed that adolescents with both high EF impairment and high levels of neuroticism demonstrated the highest PTSS (t = 3.47; p <.001). Conclusions: Most adolescent transplant recipients in the present study did not report clinically significant levels of PTSS; however, those with high neuroticism and greater EF difficulties may be particularly vulnerable to PTSS following organ transplantation. Following transplantation, medical providers should assess for PTSS and risk factors for developing PTSS. Identification of those at risk for PTSS is critical, given the strong associations between PTSS and certain medical outcomes (e.g., medication nonadherence) among these youth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere14176
JournalPediatric transplantation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • adolescents
  • executive functioning
  • pediatric transplantation
  • personality
  • posttraumatic stress symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Transplantation


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