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American Public Health Association
133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition
December 10-14, 2005
Philadelphia, PA
APHA 2005
3272.0: Monday, December 12, 2005 - 3:24 PM

Abstract #105850

A 30-year longitudinal study of outcomes after spinal cord injury

James S. Krause, PhD1, Lynne E. Broderick, MPH2, and Jennifer L. Coker, MPH1. (1) College of Health Professions, Medical University of South Carolina, 19 Hagood Avenue, Suite 910, Charleston, SC 29425, (2) Crawford Research Institute, Shepherd Center, 2020 Peachtree Road, Atlanta, GA 30309, 404-367-1348, lynne_broderick@shepherd.org

Despite recent emphasis on the natural course of aging after spinal cord injury (SCI), there continues to be insufficient research using longitudinal methods over time. The purpose of this study was to investigate the natural course of changes in participation, health, and psychosocial adjustment over a 30-year period. A total of 78 of the initial 256 respondents from 1973 participated in the 30-year follow-up. The Life Situation Questionnaire was developed to measure study outcomes. Each outcome variable was compared between occasions to identify changes in mean scores for continuous variables or percentages for categorical variables such as employment status. Paired t-tests were used to identify changes in outcomes between 1973 and 2002 for all continuous variables. We found that adjustment scores, satisfaction with employment (t = 2.08, p < .05), years of education (t = 5.48, p < .001), and employment indicators significantly improved over time. In contrast, satisfaction with social life (t = -2.32, p < .05), sex life (t = -3.77, p < .01), and health (t = -1.98, p < .05) decreased, and the number of non-routine medical visits within two years prior to the study significantly increased over the 30-year period (t = 3.75, p < .001). Given the mixed pattern of favorable and unfavorable changes, the findings challenge the assumption that aging will inevitably be associated with an overall decline in outcomes and quality of life, yet they clearly suggest that need for interventions to increase participation and maintain health as people age with SCI.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Disability, Quality of Life

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

I wish to disclose that I have NO financial interests or other relationship with the manufactures of commercial products, suppliers of commercial services or commercial supporters.

Emerging Issues in Disability

The 133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition (December 10-14, 2005) of APHA