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Veterans with Spinal Cord Injury Report Frequent Physical and Mental Health Concerns


The measurement of health-related quality of life (HRQoL) is particularly important for persons with spinal cord injuries (SCI) because they often experience complications as a result of their impairment, in addition to the chronic diseases that often accompany aging. The objective of this cross-sectional observational study was to determine the association between characteristics of veterans with SCI (n=2302) and self-reported health-related quality of life. Investigators assessed survey data to examine demographics, chronic illness, and risky health behaviors (e.g., smoking), in addition to four HRQoL measures – frequent physically unhealthy days (FPD), frequent mentally unhealthy days (FMD), frequent days with depressive symptoms (FDS), and poor self-rated health. Findings show that approximately 19% of veterans reported FMD, 27% reported FPD, 17% reported FDS, and 29% reported poor or fair health. Overall, veterans with SCI were much more likely to experience FPD, FMD, and FDS than what has been reported for the general population. In addition, both chronic illnesses and smoking had a substantial effect on HRQoL for persons with SCI, suggesting the importance of continued efforts to improve smoking cessation methods and to treat and prevent chronic conditions.

PubMed Logo Smith B, LaVela, S, and Weaver, F. Health-Related Quality of Life for Veterans with Spinal Cord Injury. Spinal Cord July 2008;46(7):507-512.

This study was supported through VA/HSR&D’s Spinal Cord Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (SCI-QUERI). All authors are part of SCI-QUERI and HSR&D’s Center for Management of Complex Chronic Care in Hines, IL.

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What are HSR&D Publication Briefs?

HSR&D requires notification by HSR&D-funded investigators about all articles accepted for publication. These journal articles are reviewed by HSR&D and publication briefs or summaries are written for a select number of articles that are then forwarded to VHA Central Office leadership to keep them informed about important findings or information. Articles to be summarized are selected by HSR&D based on timeliness of the findings, interest of leadership, or potential impact on the organization. Publication briefs are written for only a small number of HSR&D published articles. Visit the HSR&D citations database for a complete listing of HSR&D articles and presentations.