Assessment of a holistic wellness program for persons with spinal cord injury.

OBJECTIVE: To test the effectiveness of a holistic (comprehensive and integrated) wellness program for adults with spinal cord injury.

DESIGN: A total of 43 adults with spinal cord injury were randomly assigned to intervention or control groups. The intervention group attended six half-day wellness workshops during 3 mos, covering physical activity, nutrition, lifestyle management, and prevention of secondary conditions. Outcome measures included several physical measures and standard psychosocial measures. Statistical analyses included paired t tests, used to determine within-group differences, and multiple regression conducted to assess between-group differences.

RESULTS: When comparing within-group baseline and final results, the intervention group reported fewer and less severe secondary conditions by the end of the study. Similarly, significant improvements were found in health-related self-efficacy and health behaviors. No significant changes in physiologic variables were observed. Although no significant between-group differences were observed, regression analyses suggested participation in the wellness program may be associated with improved health behaviors.

CONCLUSION: Within-group comparisons suggest improvements in several areas of the participants’ overall health behaviors. These findings, although preliminary, emphasize the potential role of health behaviors in positively influencing long-term health outcomes and quality of life.