Predictors of psychosocial adaptation among people with spinal cord injury or disorder.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the influence of disability-related medical and psychologic variables on psychosocial adaptation to spinal cord injury or disorder (SCI/D).

DESIGN: A structural equation modeling design linking 3 sets of predictive variables to an outcome measure of adaptation.

SETTING: Two outpatient SCI clinics (1 veteran, 1 civilian) in Texas. PARTICIPANTS: Veterans (n=181) and civilians (n=132) with SCI/D.

INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The adaptation outcome was measured by 2 subscales (acknowledgment, adjustment) of the Reactions to Impairment and Disability Inventory (RIDI) and by the Quality of Life Scale. The predictive variables were measured by a demographic questionnaire, 3 subscales (intrusion, re-experiencing, hyperarousal) of the Purdue Posttraumatic Stress Disorder-Revised scale, the McMordie-Templer Death Anxiety Scale, and 3 subscales (anxiety, depression, denial) of the RIDI.

RESULTS: Goodness-of-fit indices suggested that a revised model of adaptation was a moderately good fit to the data. The revised model of adaptation indicated that there were medium total effects (direct plus indirect) on psychosocial adaptation by 2 latent variables (disability severity and impact, negative affectivity) and small total effects on psychosocial adaptation by disengagement coping. The latent factor of disengagement coping had the strongest direct effect on adaptation (although not statistically significant). Disability severity and impact had medium indirect effects and negative affectivity had small indirect effects on psychosocial adaptation. All of the aforementioned effects had a negative coefficient.

CONCLUSIONS: Negative emotional responses (eg, depression, anxiety) to SCI/D, disengagement-type coping (eg, disability denial, avoidance), and the severity and impact of disability were related to lower levels of adaptation to SCI/D.