What determines low satisfaction with life in individuals with spinal cord injury?

Sherri L. LaVela*, Bella Etingen, Scott Miskevics, Allen W. Heinemann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine variables associated with satisfaction with life (SWL) in individuals with a spinal cord injury (SCI). Design: Cross-sectional, national survey to assess SWL, demographic and injury characteristics, health care utilization, chronic conditions (obesity, diabetes, heart problems, lung problems, hypertension, high cholesterol), symptoms (poor sleep, pain, depression), social support, grief/loss, and independence. Setting/Participants: Community-dwelling Veterans with SCI. Outcome Measures/Analyses: Bivariate analyses were conducted to assess differences in demographics, injury characteristics, chronic conditions, symptoms, social support, grief/loss, and independence in individuals who reported low SWL (≤20) vs. average/high SWL (21-35). Multivariate logistic regression assessed factors independently associated with low SWL. Results: 896 Veterans with SCI (62%) responded. Average age was 62 years, the majority were male (94%), Caucasian (77%), and had paraplegia (61%). Odds of low SWL were 2.4 times greater for individuals experiencing pain (OR = 2.43, CI95: 1.47-4.02, P = 0.0005). Odds of low SWL were increased for individuals reporting greater grief/loss due to their SCI (OR = 1.14, CI95: 1.10-1.18, P < 0.0001). Lesser odds of low SWL were seen for individuals reporting greater emotional social support (OR = 0.97, CI95: 0.96-0.99, P < 0.0001) and independence (OR = 0.94, CI95: 0.90-0.97, P < 0.0001). Conclusions: Pain and feelings of grief/loss due to injury were associated with low SWL. Self-perceived independence and good social support were associated with better SWL. Along with addressing pain and facilitating independence and social support, these findings suggest that interventions to improve SWL should focus on helping individuals deal with grief/loss due to injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)236-244
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Spinal Cord Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 4 2019


  • Grief/loss
  • Independence
  • Pain
  • Satisfaction with life
  • Social support
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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