Health locus of control and attributions of cause and blame in adjustment to spinal cord injury

Spinal Cord. 2010 Aug;48(8):598-602. doi: 10.1038/sc.2009.182. Epub 2010 Jan 12.


Study design: The Symptom Checklist 90 Revised (SCL-90-R) was used to assign participants to either a good adjustment group or a poor adjustment group. Group differences were analyzed with chi (2), t-tests and correlations on factors shown in previous research to be related to coping with spinal cord injury (SCI).

Objectives: This study examines health locus of control (HLC) and attributions of cause and blame in relation to SCI. The replication of study findings in multiple settings is a cornerstone of the evidence base for developing interventions. Previous studies do not show a consensus on the role of attributions of cause and blame in persons with SCI. Similarly, their relationship to adjustment after SCI is unclear. Another attribution, HLC, is similarly analyzed in relation to adjustment.

Setting: Republic of Ireland.

Methods: Thirty people with SCI participated. They rated scales measuring psychological adjustment, locus of control (LOC) for health and attributions of cause and blame for the injury.

Results: The well-adjusted group had a less external HLC. In addition, participants who were well adjusted endorsed the notion they could have avoided their accident significantly more than the poorly adjusted group. Similarly, they rated the belief that they could have caused the accident at a somewhat greater level. They did not, however, blame themselves any more or any less.

Conclusion: Results are consistent with general LOC theory, and suggest an adaptive or protective internal LOC for accepting responsibility for the injury.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Causality
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Helplessness, Learned*
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control*
  • Ireland / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests / standards
  • Social Adjustment*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / diagnosis
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / epidemiology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards
  • Young Adult