Study design: This is a single-group, retrospective study.
Objectives: The objective of this study was to understand the factors contributing to satisfaction with life (SWL) among veterans with a spinal cord injury (SCI) completing rehabilitation.
Setting: This study was conducted at Veterans Administration Medical Center, San Diego.MethodsBetween 1998 and 2010, N=118 Veterans participated in a Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF)-accredited rehabilitation program after a new SCI. Pre-rehabilitation measures of impairment at the organ/body level, activity limitation at the person level and participation restriction at the societal level were used to predict Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS) scores upon discharge.
Results: Although overall mean SWLS admission and discharge scores were not significantly different (P>0.10), individual change in SWLS scores during rehabilitation was notable, ranging from a 17-point improvement to a 22-point decline across veterans (mean Δ=+1.18, s.d.=6.04). Veterans who exhibited less activity limitation (higher cognitive functioning, r=0.31, P<0.01) and less participation restriction (greater social integration, r=0.21, P<0.05; a trend toward greater economic sufficiency, r=0.16, P<0.10) at baseline had higher SWLS scores after rehabilitation. When these factors were entered together into a single regression model, only cognitive functioning remained statistically significant (P<0.05).
Conclusion: Findings highlight potential targets for interventions, aiming to improve SWL post SCI among US veterans. In addition to directly targeting SWL with psychosocial interventions, results suggest that rehabilitation settings should continue and/or expand upon programs targeting cognitive functioning (activity limitation) and social integration (participation restriction). Nevertheless, additional research is warranted to identify the biopsychosocial factors most reliably associated with SWL and/or other aspects of quality of life.