Background Evidence about the impact of marital status before hematopoietic cell transplantation (hct) on outcomes after hct is conflicting. Methods We identified patients 40 years of age and older within the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research registry who underwent hct between January 2008 and December 2015. Marital status before hct was declared as one of: married or living with a partner, single (never married), separated or divorced, and widowed. We performed a multivariable analysis to determine the association of marital status with outcomes after hct. Results We identified 10,226 allogeneic and 5714 autologous hct cases with, respectively, a median follow-up of 37 months (range: 1–102 months) and 40 months (range: 1–106 months). No association between marital status and overall survival was observed in either the allogeneic (p = 0.58) or autologous (p = 0.17) setting. However, marital status was associated with grades 2–4 acute graft-versus-host disease (gvhd), p < 0.001, and chronic gvhd, p = 0.04. The risk of grades 2–4 acute gvhd was increased in separated compared with married patients [hazard ratio (hr): 1.13; 95% confidence interval (ci): 1.03 to 1.24], and single patients had a reduced risk of grades 2–4 acute gvhd (hr: 0.87; 95% ci: 0.77 to 0.98). The risk of chronic gvhd was lower in widowed compared with married patients (hr: 0.82; 95% ci: 0.67 to 0.99). Conclusions Overall survival after hct is not influenced by marital status, but associations were evident between marital status and grades 2–4 acute and chronic gvhd. To better appreciate the effects of marital status and social support, future research should consider using validated scales to measure social support and patient and caregiver reports of caregiver commitment, and to assess health-related quality of life together with health care utilization.
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