Self-reports of treatment for secondary health conditions: results from a longitudinal community survey in spinal cord injury

Spinal Cord. 2021 Apr;59(4):389-397. doi: 10.1038/s41393-020-00596-z. Epub 2020 Dec 8.


Study design: Longitudinal community survey.

Objectives: To describe the treatment for secondary health conditions as reported by individuals living with spinal cord injury (SCI) and to identify potential predictors of treatment.

Setting: Community (people with SCI living in Switzerland).

Methods: Data on the frequency, severity, and treatment of 14 common health conditions (HCs) in the past three months were collected in two surveys by the Swiss Spinal Cord Injury (SwiSCI) cohort study, in 2012 and 2017. Variation in treatment was analyzed using descriptive statistics, by survey period and severity of HC. Conditional multilevel random-effects logistic regression was used to describe differences in self-reported treatment with respect to sociodemographic and socioeconomic factors in addition to SCI characteristics and severity and number of HCs.

Results: Severe or chronic autonomic dysreflexia and sleep problems showed in the self-report as the HCs with the lowest occurrence/frequency of treatment. Across all HCs, higher age, shorter time since injury, the total number of HCs, and level of severity were associated with a higher propensity for reporting treatment. Individuals with severe financial difficulties additionally had 1.40 greater odds of receiving treatment (95% CI 1.09-1.80).

Conclusions: This study identified systematic differences in the report of HCs and their treatment within the Swiss SCI community. This study thus provides a basis to guide future research on identifying targets of intervention for long-term clinical management of SCI.

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Self Report
  • Spinal Cord Injuries* / complications
  • Spinal Cord Injuries* / epidemiology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries* / therapy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires