Outcomes after spinal cord injury: comparisons as a function of gender and race and ethnicity

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2004 Mar;85(3):355-62. doi: 10.1016/s0003-9993(03)00615-4.


Objective: To identify gender and racial and ethnic differences in subjective well-being (SWB), participation, and general health ratings in participants with spinal cord injury (SCI).

Design: A multisite, cross-sectional study that used stratified sampling to identify and maximize participation among groups of people traditionally underrepresented in SCI research.

Setting: Four Model Spinal Cord Injury Systems participated in the data collection. The primary site was a large southeastern specialty hospital; the other 3 were in the western and mountain regions of the United States.

Participants: A total of 512 participants, 475 of whom were included in the analysis. This group included relatively equal portions of whites, African Americans, American Indians, and Hispanics. Approximately 40% of the sample was women.

Interventions: Not applicable.

Main outcome measures: The primary outcome measures included 2 measures of SWB (Life Situation Questionnaire-Revised, Older Adult Health and Mood Questionnaire), 1 measure of participation (Craig Handicap Assessment and Reporting Technique), and several items from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

Results: The majority of racial and ethnic differences in SWB related to specific life areas (eg, economics, employment), rather than more global outcomes (eg, engagement, health), with whites generally reporting the best outcomes, followed by African Americans. American Indians, and whites generally reported the highest participation scores, whereas limited differences were noted between the racial and ethnic groups on health indicators. Women reported lower satisfaction with health, more poor mental health days, and lower SWB related to home life, but higher SWB related to interpersonal relations.

Conclusions: There are racial and ethnic differences in outcomes after SCI focused primarily on subjective outcomes in areas in which racial and ethnic minorities have traditionally been disadvantaged. The results of this study direct rehabilitation professionals to the outcomes that need to be targeted for intervention to eliminate inequities in outcomes for all persons with SCI.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • European Continental Ancestry Group*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Hispanic Americans*
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / ethnology*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States / epidemiology