Emerging evidence suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic has been accompanied by increased rates of depression and social isolation. However, we do not yet understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the psychosocial health of people with spinal cord injury (PwSCI), a population that is already at risk of experiencing mental health conditions.
The aims of the study were to (1) examine the impact of the pandemic on the psychosocial health of PwSCI and (2) investigate the experiences of PwSCI and resources they reported needing during the peak of the pandemic.
A cross-sectional survey with closed- and open-ended questions was administered to 51 PwSCI. Participants were included if they had an SCI, were 18 years or older, lived in St. Louis, Missouri, and surrounding areas, and understood English.
Canonical correlation showed a significant association between financial security, food insecurity, and personal assistance service use and adverse psychosocial health outcomes (p < .001). Participants reported interest in resources related to COVID-19 precautions for wheelchair users as well as home exercise programming and financial assistance with utilities. Finally, qualitative analysis revealed four major themes: (1) mental health during the pandemic, (2) financial concerns and reduced access to personal assistance services, (3) feelings of social isolation prior to the pandemic, and (4) local and national authorities’ handling of the pandemic.
PwSCI are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and reported a variety of resource needs. These findings may inform service providers, support systems, and organizations to better support PwSCI during times of crisis.