Earnings among people with spinal cord injury

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2008 Aug;89(8):1474-81. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2007.12.040.


Objective: To identify differences in conditional and unconditional earnings among participants with spinal cord injury (SCI) attributable to biographic, injury, educational, and employment factors by using a 2-part model (employment, earnings).

Design: A secondary analysis of cross-sectional survey data.

Setting: A Midwestern university hospital and a private hospital in the Southeastern United States.

Participants: All participants (N=1296) were adults between the ages of 18 and 64 who had a traumatic SCI at least 1 year before study initiation.

Interventions: Not applicable.

Main outcome measures: Earnings were defined by earnings within the previous 12 months and were measured by a single categoric item. Conditional earnings reflect the earnings of employed participants, whereas unconditional earnings reflect all participants with $0 in earnings recorded for those unemployed.

Results: Sex and race were significantly related to conditional earnings, even after controlling for educational and vocational variables. Additionally, conditional earnings (employed participants only) were related to 16 or more years of education, number of years employed, the percentage of time after SCI spent employed, and working in either government or private industry (not self-employed or family business). There was a greater number of significant variables for unconditional earnings, largely reflective of the influence of the portion employed (those not working having $0 in earnings).

Conclusions: Efforts to improve employment outcomes should focus on facilitating return to work immediately after injury, returning to preinjury job, maintaining regular employment, and working for placement in government or private industry. Special efforts may be needed to promote vocational outcomes among women and nonwhites.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Educational Status
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Income / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Midwestern United States
  • Occupations
  • Recovery of Function
  • Rehabilitation, Vocational
  • Sex Factors
  • Southeastern United States
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Unemployment / statistics & numerical data