BackgroundWorse functional status correlates with increased mortality on the liver transplant (LT) waitlist. Whether functional status affects LT outcomes equally across cirrhosis etiologies is unclear.AimsWe evaluate the impact of functional status on waitlist and post-LT mortality stratified by etiology and age.MethodsFunctional status among US adults from 2005 to 2017 United Network for Organ Sharing LT registry data was retrospectively evaluated using Karnofsky Performance Status Score (KPS-1 = functional status 80–100%, KPS-2 = 60–70%, KPS-3 = 40–50%, KPS-4 = 10–30%). Waitlist and post-LT survival were stratified by KPS and cirrhosis etiology, including alcoholic liver disease (ALD), nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), hepatitis C (HCV), and HCV/ALD, and evaluated using Kaplan–Meier and multivariate Cox proportional hazard models.ResultsAmong 94,201 waitlist registrants (69.4% men, 39.5% HCV, 26.7% ALD, 23.2% NASH), ALD patients had worse functional status compared to HCV (KPS-4: 17.2% vs. 8.3%, p < 0.001). Worse functional status at time of waitlist registration was associated with higher 90-day waitlist mortality with the greatest effect in ALD (KPS-4 vs. KPS-1: ALD HR 2.16, 95% CI 1.83–2.55; HCV HR 2.17, 95% CI 1.87–2.51). Similar trends occurred in 5-year post-LT survival with ALD patients the most harmed. Compared to patients < 50 years, patients ≥ 65 years had increased waitlist mortality at 90-days if they had HCV or HCV/ALD, and 5-year post-LT mortality regardless of cirrhosis etiology with ALD patients most severely affected.ConclusionsIn a retrospective cohort study of patients, US ALD patients had disparately worse functional status at time of LT waitlist registration. Worse functional status correlated with higher risk of waitlist and post-LT mortality, affecting ALD and HCV patients the most.