Transplant Trial Watch

Life satisfaction and happiness in patients shielding from the COVID-19 global pandemic: A randomised controlled study of the 'mood as information' theory.

O'Donnell, A., et al.

PLoS ONE [Electronic Resource] 2020; 15(12): e0243278

This study aimed to examine the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the life satisfaction and happiness of kidney transplant patients undertaking mandatory shielding.

Participants were randomised to those who were to be primed with a question regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and those who were not.

200 kidney transplant recipients.

The outcomes of interest were overall life satisfaction, momentary happiness, overall lifetime happiness and desire to change.


CET Conclusions
This is a very interesting and well conducted RCT in renal transplantation during the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. The study is predicated on the basis that humans desire explanations for behaviours and feelings. Telephone interviews were conducted to assess patients’ life satisfaction and happiness. 200 renal transplant recipients, who were shielding during the period of the study (May 1st- 29th 2020), were randomised to one of two groups. The first group received a “priming” introduction whereby they were asked “By the way, how’s the COVID-19 pandemic making you feel at the moment?” Both groups had the same introductory conversation apart from this one sentence and then were asked the same 4 questions about their life satisfaction. Patients who had the priming introduction gave significantly better scores for lifetime happiness, life satisfaction and momentary happiness, as well as desire for change. It seems that asking a question about the COVID-19 pandemic, that brings this negative event into the frame, resulted in a discounting effect, whereby positive changes in both momentary happiness and other components of global life satisfaction were given higher scores. This has strong implications for how and when measures of life satisfaction should be gathered.

Jadad score

Data analysis
Per protocol analysis

Allocation concealment

Trial registration

Funding source
Non-industry funded