Assessment of the relationship of spiritual well-being to depression and quality of life for persons with spinal cord injury

Catherine S. Wilson*, Martin Forchheimer, Allen W. Heinemann, Anne Marie Warren, Cheryl McCullumsmith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Objective: This study sought to describe the association between spiritual well-being, demographic characteristics, quality of life (QOL) and depressive symptoms following spinal cord injury (SCI). We hypothesized QOL and depressed mood would both be explained by extent of spiritual well-being, and meaning-focused (M&P) spirituality would have a stronger impact than faith-focused spirituality. Methods: 210 individuals with SCI were screened as part of a randomized control trial of venlafaxine XR for major depressive disorder (MDD). 204 completed all measures: Patient Health Questionniare-9 (PHQ-9) assessed depression, the FACIT-Sp assessed spiritual well-being, the Neuro-QOL PAWB scale assessed QOL, and the PANAS assessed affect. Results: Approximately 26% had major depression. Bivariate correlations of scores on PAWB and PANAS and FACIT-Sp showed that all four scales had strong associations with those on PAWB (p < 0.0005). As hypothesized, both the M&P and Faith scales of the FACIT-Sp were significant predictors of QOL (β = 0.544; p < 0.0005 and β = 0.151; p = 0.004), though only the M&P scale was an independently significant predictor of likely MDD. Conclusion: The findings support that spirituality, as measured by the FACIT-Sp, is strongly associated with QOL and likelihood of MDD. Assessment of spirituality should be included along with more traditional psychological measurements to better inform treatment. Implications for Rehabilitation Spiritual beliefs can contribute to quality of life and may help moderate depressive symptoms that accompany chronic illness and disability, suggesting that rehabilitation professionals should address spirituality in working with their patients with spinal cord injury (SCI). While spiritual issues are often deferred to pastoral counselors during hospitalization, it is clear that addressing these is not the domain of one discipline and does not end upon inpatient discharge. In addressing spirituality, clinicians should tap the spiritual strengths present in their clients, whether meaning/peace-focused or religious, understanding that spirituality involves more than religiosity and also that having a sense of meaning and peace appears to be of great importance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-496
Number of pages6
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 27 2017


  • Depression
  • faith
  • quality of life
  • spinal cord injury
  • spiritual well-being
  • spirituality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation


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