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. 2018 Nov;41(6):691-702.
doi: 10.1080/10790268.2017.1293868. Epub 2017 Mar 13.

Mental Disorder Prevalence Among U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatients With Spinal Cord Injuries

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Free PMC article

Mental Disorder Prevalence Among U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatients With Spinal Cord Injuries

Scott D McDonald et al. J Spinal Cord Med. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Objectives: Depression and other mental disorders are more prevalent among individuals living with spinal cord injury (SCI) than in the community at large, and have a strong association with quality of life. Yet little is known about the prevalence and predictors of mental disorders among U.S. military Veterans living with SCI. The primary aim of this study was to present an estimate of mental disorder point prevalence in this population. The secondary aim was to examine the relationship of mental disorders to demographics, injury characteristics, and other clinically relevant features such as impairment from mental health problems and life satisfaction.

Design: Cross-sectional.

Setting: A SCI & Disorders Center at a U.S. Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Participants/methods: Administrative and medical records of 280 Veterans who attended annual comprehensive SCI evaluations were evaluated. Demographics, injury characteristics, self-reported mental and emotional functioning (i.e. SF-8 Health Survey), and clinician-determined mental disorder diagnoses were attained.

Results: Overall, 40% of patients received at least one mental disorder diagnosis, most commonly depressive disorders (19%), posttraumatic stress disorder (12%), and substance or alcohol use disorders (11%). Several patient characteristics predicted mental disorders, including age, racial minority identity, non-traumatic SCI etiology, and incomplete (i.e. AIS D) vs. complete injury. Mental disorders were associated with greater impairment from health and mental health-related problems and less satisfaction with life.

Conclusions: Mental disorders are common among outpatients receiving VA specialty care for SCI. These findings highlight the importance of having adequate and effective available mental health services available for Veterans with SCI.

Keywords: Depression; Mental disorders; Social adjustment; Spinal cord injuries; Veterans.

Figures

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Figure 1
Flowchart of appointments and patient data used in this study.
Figure 1
Figure 1
Flowchart of appointments and patient data used in this study.

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Grant support

This project was supported by a VA Career Development Award-2 (K2RX000703; PI: McDonald).
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