Social Support and the Prediction of Health Complications Among Persons with Spinal Cord Injuries

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Abstract

ABSTRACT

We examined the relation of social support to health complications in two studies. In the first, elements of social support were not significantly associated with reasons for hospitalizations among 95 persons with spinal cord injuries (SCIs) sampled from three different facilities. Complete lesions and paraplegia were significantly related to the self-reported incidence of skin problems; tetraplegia was associated with “check-ups.” The second study reviewed the available medical charts of 52 patients from the first study after the initial interview. The incidence of decubitus ulcers and urinary tract infections reported during the year was tallied. Discriminant function analysis found level of injury, lesion, age, depression, and elements of social support to be significantly predictive of those with documented health complications over the year. However, the associations between social support and health complications depended on the type of support provided. Moreover, the relations were inconsistent with existing models of social support. Results are discussed as they pertain to theoretical perspectives of social support and clinical aspects of SCI rehabilitation.

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