Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on People With Spinal Cord Injury

Susan Robinson-Whelen, Rosemary B. Hughes, Heather B. Taylor, Sally A. Holmes, Jessica Rodriquez, Sujal Manohar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Few studies have examined the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the lives of peoplewith spinal cord injury (SCI), a population uniquely vulnerable to pandemic-related stressors. This study examines the impact of the pandemic on three life domains (psychosocial health, health and health behavior, and social participation) and identifies risk factors for adverse psychosocial health impacts in a sample of people with SCI. Method: A diverse sample of 346 adults with SCI completed a survey assessing demographic, disability, health, and social characteristics, and perceived impacts of the pandemic. Results: Many respondents reported no change on items reflecting psychosocial health, health and health behavior, and social participation; however, among those reporting change,more reported negative than positive impacts. Negative impacts were most striking with regard to psychosocial health and social engagement, with approximately half reporting a worsening of stress, depression, anxiety, and loneliness and a reduction in face-to-face interactions and participation in life roles. Regression analyses revealed that those at greater risk of adverse psychosocial impacts were women, were non-Black, were in poorer health, had greater unmet care needs, and were less satisfied with their social roles and activities. Conclusions: Although not universal, negative impacts were reported by many respondents 9–15 months into the pandemic. Future research should examine the impacts of the pandemic over time and on a wider range of outcomes. Such research could generate substantial benefits in understanding, preventing, orminimizing the adverse effects of the evolving pandemic and future public health emergencies in people with SCI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalRehabilitation Psychology
Volume68
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2023

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • loneliness
  • mental health
  • social isolation
  • spinal cord injury

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