Outcomes of outpatient visits for acute respiratory illness in veterans with spinal cord injuries and disorders

Frances M. Weaver*, Bridget Smith, Charlesnika T. Evans, Jibby E. Kurichi, Nayna Patel, Vishesh K. Kapur, Stephen P. Burns

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Respiratory complications are a leading cause of death in persons with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI&D). We examined same-day and 60-day hospitalizations and 60-day mortality after acute respiratory illness (ARI) outpatient visits. DESIGN: A longitudinal study was conducted of 8775 ARI visits in the Veterans Health Administration (VA) (October. 1997-September 2002) by persons with SCI&D. ARIs included upper respiratory infections (URI), acute bronchitis, pneumonia, and influenza (P&I). RESULTS: URIs accounted for almost half of all (49%) visits. A total of 14.9% of patients with ARIs were hospitalized the same day; 30.8% were hospitalized within 60 days. Predictors of hospitalization included diagnosis of either P&I or acute bronchitis, comorbid illness, level of injury, age, and VA SCI center visit. Overall 60-day mortality was 2.9% but was 7.9% for pneumonia. Mortality was related to diagnosis (P&I: odds ratio [OR] = 9.80, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 6.27-13.33; acute bronchitis: OR = 2.00, 95% CI: 1.08-2.93), age (65+: OR = 3.96, 95% CI: 2.23-5.70), and comorbid conditions (OR = 1.94, 95% CI: 1.43-2.46). CONCLUSIONS: P&I and acute bronchitis were associated with increased VA hospitalization and mortality rates. The case fatality rate for pneumonia is higher for SCI&D than the general population. Level of injury predicted hospitalization but not death. Efforts to improve prevention and treatment of ARIs in persons with SCI&D are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)718-726
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2006


  • Infection
  • Outcomes
  • Respiratory Care
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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