Objective: This research investigated the effects of a structured psychological intervention, delivered during hospital rehabilitation, on the perceptions of control in people with spinal cord injury (SCI).
Method: A longitudinal study was designed to assess perceptions of control (using an objective measure of locus of control) in SCI persons who participated in specialised group cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) during hospital rehabilitation. The treatment SCI group's responses on locus of control were compared with a control group of SCI persons who only received traditional rehabilitation services during their hospitalisation.
Results and conclusions: Mean locus of control scores were not high (i.e. external) for both groups and there were no overall group differences on locus of control responses across time in comparison to the control group. However, subjects in both groups who initially perceived life as externally controlled were extracted to form subgroups. The members of the subgroup who received CBT were significantly more likely to feel in control of themselves 2 years post injury compared to similar persons in the control group. Furthermore, an external locus of control was significantly but mildly associated with depressive mood 2 years after the injury. This research suggests that the provision of a structured psychological program in the rehabilitation stage will be beneficial for many SCI persons who feel that they have little control over their lives.