Capturing the psychologic-personal perspective in spinal cord injury

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2011 Nov;90(11 Suppl 2):S79-96. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0b013e318230fb68.


Objective: The overall objective of this study was to illustrate a systematic approach for capturing the psychologic-personal perspective in International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health-based comprehensive research on spinal cord injury (SCI) in terms of what and how to measure. The specific aims were to identify (1) relevant areas of research for capturing the psychologic-personal factors in a study that is planned and conceptualized according to the comprehensive context of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health, using SCI as a case in point; (2) a set of domains relevant for SCI research from a psychologic-personal perspective; and (3) suitable measurement instruments that can be considered for the assessment of those identified domains based on a set of predefined guiding principles.

Design: The psychologic-personal factor structure was developed based on an item pool of 1246 entries from secondary analyses of available data from SCI studies. The domain set for psychologic-personal factors was identified through reviewing the scientific literature in PubMed and PsycInfo. The set of measurement instruments was collected using available measurement reviews, searches in the literature, instrument databases, and further sources and was selected using guiding principles.

Results: Forty specific psychologic-personal factors, subdivided into seven areas of research, were identified: (1) sociodemographic personal characteristics, (2) the position in the immediate social and physical context, (3) personal history and biography, (4) feelings, (5) thoughts and beliefs, (6) motives, and (7) patterns of experience and behavior. The psychologic-personal factors domain set contains both cross-cutting outcome domains, namely quality-of-life, life satisfaction, subjective well-being, and sociodemographic personal characteristics, life events, positive and negative affect, perceived stress, locus of control, self-efficacy, purpose in life, coping, lifestyle, and personality. For each of the identified domains, a pool of measurement instruments was listed, and the application of predefined guiding principles for measurement instrument selection was exemplified for self-efficacy. It resulted in the selection of the General Self-Efficacy Scale by Schwarzer and Jerusalem (Measures in Health Psychology: A User's Portfolio. Causal and Control Beliefs. pp. 35-37; 1995).

Conclusions: The results of the current article contributed to creating a transparent protocol for the Swiss Spinal Cord Injury Cohort study, coordinated by the Swiss Paraplegic Research in Nottwil, Switzerland. This article also stresses the relevance of the comprehensive approach to SCI and the consideration of the psychologic-personal perspective in this approach. The study, therefore, hopes to encourage scientists to use the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health and the psychologic-personal perspective as a frame of reference for their research. Furthermore, the research reported in this article can inform the World Health Organization's future development of the personal factors classification in the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Attitude
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Motivation
  • Quality of Life
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires