Objective: This study examines the quality of life among individuals with spinal cord injury requiring assistance for bowel and bladder management vs. those with independent control of bowel and bladder.
Design: Two groups of 53 individuals each were matched case for case on age, education, sex, race, and lesion level. Outcome measures included the Satisfaction With Life Scale, the Craig Handicap Assessment and Reporting Technique (CHART), and the SF-12.
Results: Satisfaction with life was significantly lower among dependent individuals with impaired bowel and bladder functioning as compared with individuals with independent bowel and bladder control. Similarly, dependent individuals reported greater self-reported handicap (CHART) than independent individuals in the areas of physical independence, mobility, and occupational functioning. However, dependent and independent individuals did not differ in the areas of social integration and economic self-sufficiency. Item analysis on the CHART item assessing number of social contacts initiated in the previous month suggested that dependent individuals may have difficulty initiating new social contacts. Independent individuals reported better overall physical health (SF-12) than dependent individuals. Mental health (SF-12), however, did not differ across groups.
Conclusions: Individuals with impaired bowel and bladder control reported lower quality of life on several domains compared with those with independent control of bowel and bladder. Though the two groups did not differ in self-reported social integration, dependent individuals may have greater difficulty creating new social relationships.