Partner relationships, functioning, mood and global quality of life in persons with spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury

Spinal Cord. 1998 Apr;36(4):252-61. doi: 10.1038/


The aim of this study was to assess and compare spinal cord injured (SCI) and traumatic brain injured (TBI) persons and people from the general population concerning partner relationships, functioning, mood and global quality of life. One hundred and sixty seven SCI persons, 92 TBI persons and 264 controls participated in the study. The median age was: SCI persons 33 years (range 19 to 79 years), TBI persons 40 years (range 20 to 70 years), and controls 31 years (range 19 to 79 years). Age at injury ranged among SCI persons from 14 to 76 years (Md 28 years), and among TBI persons from 16 to 56 years (Md 32 years). Half of the SCI group (51%), 58% of the TBI group and 59% of the controls had a stable partner relationship at the time of the investigation. Many of these SCI and TBI relationships (38% and 55% respectively) were established after injury. Both SCI and TBI persons showed significantly more depressive feelings compared with the controls. Perceived quality of life (global QL rating) was significantly lower in the SCI group compared with the controls, whereas the ratings of TBI persons and controls did not differ significantly. SCI and TBI persons did not differ significantly in level of education, perceived quality of life or distress. In all three groups, global quality-of-life ratings were significantly lower among single persons compared to those with a partner relationship. It was concluded that both SCI and TBI appear to affect overall quality of life and mental well-being negatively. The number of partner relationships contracted after injury among both SCI and TBI persons indicates, however, that the injury is not a major barrier to establishing close partner relationships. Being in good spirits, that is, lack of depressive feelings has a profound impact on the perception of a high quality of life in all three groups. For the SCI and TBI persons, a high level of physical and social independence were further positive determinants of a perceived high quality of life.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms
  • Aged
  • Brain Injuries / complications
  • Brain Injuries / psychology*
  • Brain Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life*
  • Self Concept
  • Sexual Partners
  • Social Adjustment
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / psychology*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / rehabilitation