Journal:Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Year, Volume, Issue, Page(s):19, 100, 12, 2233-2243
Objectives: In a sample of wheelchair users with spinal cord injury (SCI), the objectives were to investigate which participant characteristics are associated with greater perceived discrimination in the health care setting, and how such discrimination relates to health outcomes of pain and depressive symptoms.
Design: Survey, cross-sectional.
Setting: Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems (SCIMS) Center.
Participants: Full-time wheelchair users with SCI from 9 SCIMS centers (N=410), with data collected between 2011 and 2016.
Main Outcomes: A 7-item questionnaire inquiring about perceived discrimination by hospital staff, self-reported pain severity over the past month using a 0-10 Numeric Rating Scale, and depressive symptoms using the 2-question Patient Health Questionnaire screener.
Results: Participants who were black or from the lowest income group were more likely to report experiencing more discrimination than those who were white or from the highest income group, respectively (incidence rate ratio=2.2-2.6, P<.01). Those who reported more perceived discrimination had greater risk of severe pain compared to no pain (relative risk [RR]=1.11; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 1.01-1.23; P<.05), mild depressive symptoms (RR=1.09; 95% CI, 1.02-1.17; P<.05), and severe depressive symptoms (RR=1.12; 95% CI, 1.04-1.21; P<.05) compared to no symptoms.
Conclusions: Wheelchair users with SCI who were from more disadvantaged groups (black, lower income levels) reported experiencing more discrimination in their health care setting. Furthermore, those who reported more discrimination were more likely to report worse mental and physical health outcomes. Attempts to reduce discrimination in health care settings may lead to better outcomes for people with SCI. These observations were correlational and not causal; a prospective analysis is necessary to prove causation. Future investigations should further explore the effect of discrimination on the many facets of living with an SCI.