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Comparison of health-related quality of life in three subgroups of spinal cord injury patients


Health-related quality of life (HRQL) was evaluated in three subgroups of spinal cord injury (SCI) patients: (1) persons who had sustained a pediatric SCI (mean time from injury 20 years, age at injury 11.3 years, n=36), (2) newly injured patients at the beginning of acute rehabilitation (mean age 35.3 years, n=31), and (3) patients with a chronic SCI (mean time from injury 4.8 years, mean age at injury 35.2 years, n=34).

All the patients were clinically examined and structurally interviewed with a list of questions dealing with details of anamnestic information about injury, its treatment, possible complications and persons past and present psycho-social condition. HRQL was assessed by a generic fifteen-dimensional self-administered instrument (15D). The relative importance of the 15D dimensions and an overall judgement of health status were measured by a 0–100 visual analogue scale.

Average importance weights of the dimensions of moving and working differed significantly in the three subgroups. Patients with pediatric SCI assigned the lowest importance for moving. The newly injured patients highly valued working capability.

The HRQL scores of the patients who had sustained their injury in childhood were significantly higher than those of the newly injured patients or chronic patients. The tetraplegic patients estimated their HRQL significantly lower than patients with incomplete paraplegia.

Of the three subgroups studied, those with pediatric SCI were well adjusted on the basis of anamnestic information and scored high on HRQL when compared with the other two subgroups. Patients injured in adulthood rated their overall HRQL lower and were often unable to return to work. Patients injured in childhood expressed better performance in physical functions than patients who had sustained their injury in adulthood. The subgroups did not differ in psychological functions.

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Correspondence to M Kannisto.

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Kannisto, M., Merikanto, J., Alaranta, H. et al. Comparison of health-related quality of life in three subgroups of spinal cord injury patients. Spinal Cord 36, 193–199 (1998).

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  • health-related quality of life
  • spinal cord injuries
  • quality of life
  • pediatric spinal cord injury

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