The Relationship of Chronological Age, Age at Injury, and Duration of Injury to Employment Status in Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury

Psychol Inj Law. 2009 Dec 1;2(3-4):263-275. doi: 10.1007/s12207-009-9062-3.


Employment status following spinal cord injury (SCI) has important implications for financial and psychosocial well-being. Several age-related variables-in particular chronological age, duration of SCI, and age at SCI onset-have been identified as being associated with employment among individuals with SCI. Cross-sectional investigations of this topic are complicated by methodological and statistical issues associated with aging and disability. The purpose of the current study was to examine the associations between three aging variables and employment status in individuals with SCI through a series of regression analyses. Six hundred twenty individuals with SCI completed a survey that included measures of demographic characteristics, pain, psychological functioning, physical functioning, fatigue, and sleep. The results indicated that chronological age and age at SCI onset were significant predictors of employment status. A significantly greater proportion of individuals aged 45-54 were employed compared to those aged 55-64 even after controlling for biopsychosocial variables. Additionally, there was a negative linear relationship between percent employed and age at SCI onset, and this relationship was not accounted for by the biopsychosocial variables. The analyses used in this study provide one method by which to disentangle the effects of different age-related variables on important SCI outcomes in cross-sectional research. Continued research in this area is needed to better understand age-related effects on employment status, which could be used to help maximize the quality of life in individuals with SCI.