Background:

There is a lack of consumer-friendly tools to empower and support people living with spinal cord injury (SCI) to self-manage complex health needs in community. This article describes the co-design process of the new SCI Health Maintenance Tool (SCI-HMT).

Methods:

Co-design of the SCI-HMT using a mixed-methods approach included a rapid review, e-Delphi surveys with range of multidisciplinary health care professionals (n = 62), interviews of participants with SCI (n = 18) and general practitioners (n = 4), focus groups (n = 3 with 7, 4, and 4 participants with SCI, respectively), design workshops with stakeholders (n = 11, 8), and end-user testing (n = 41).

Results:

The SCI-HMT (healthmaintenancetool.com) was developed based on participatory research with data synthesis from multiple sources. Five priority health maintenance issues for bladder, bowel, skin, pain, and autonomic dysreflexia were originally covered. Best practice recommendations, red flag conditions, referrals, and clinical pathways were agreed on through an e-Delphi technique. Qualitative analysis identified six broad key concepts for self-management, including early symptom recognition, role of SCI peers, knowledge sharing with primary care, general practitioners as gatekeepers, and shared decision-making and highlighted a need to place much stronger emphasis on mental health and well-being. Design workshops and end-user testing provided key insights about user experience, functionality, and content for the SCI-HMT.

Conclusion:

The co-design process engaging end users, including people with SCI and general practitioners, enabled a shared understanding of the problem and identification of important needs and how to meet them. Informed by this process, the SCI-HMT is a freely accessible resource supporting SCI self-management, shared decision-making, and early problem identification.

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