Author(s): Gerhart KA, Weitzenkamp DA, Kennedy P, Glass CA, Charlifue SW
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Abstract STUDY DESIGN: Longitudinal. OBJECTIVES: To characterize long-injured SCI persons with high reported stress; to assess the relationship between severity of disability and perceived stress; to identify correlates of future stress and outcomes of previous stress. SETTING: Two SCI centres in England: Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury, and the District General Hospital in Southport. METHODS: In 1990, 1993 and 1996 187 persons who sustained spinal cord injuries prior to 1971 underwent comprehensive physical evaluations and health status interviews and completed a battery of tests to measure psychosocial functioning. Using mean scores on the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) as the reference, a range of outcomes were analyzed to identify concurrent, previous, and future variables that were significantly correlated with perceived stress. RESULTS: No associations were found between stress and any of the proxy variables that represented injury severity. Such common SCI-related medical conditions as pressure sores and upper extremity pain were not related to stress; not even fatigue was significantly associated with stress in both time periods studied. However, depressive symptoms, poorer life satisfaction, and poorer perceived well being were associated with future stress and were outcomes that appeared to be related to earlier stress. CONCLUSION: Perceived stress in long-term SCI is not closely related to the severity of the disability or physical independence. It is, however, related to scores on several measures of adjustment and coping. Though mean stress scores in this sample did not appear to differ substantially from scores in the general nondisabled population, further controlled study is needed to definitively answer the question: Do SCI survivors report more stress than their nondisabled counterparts?
This article was published in Spinal Cord
and referenced in Journal of Spine