Mediators of disability and hope for people with spinal cord injury

Brian N. Phillips, Susan M. Smedema, Allison R. Fleming, Connie Sung, Michael G. Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Abstract: Purpose: To test potential strength-based mediators of functional disability and hope in adults with spinal cord injury. Method: Two hundred and forty-two participants with spinal cord injury were recruited for this study. The mean age of participants was 44.6 years (standard deviation = 13.2), and 66.1% were men. Participants completed a survey containing a demographic questionnaire, as well as measures of functional disability, hope, self-esteem, proactive coping, perceived social support and disability acceptance. Mediation analysis was conducted using a bootstrap test for multiple mediators. Results: Proactive coping, self-esteem and perceived social support significantly mediated the relationship between functional disability and hope, while disability acceptance did not. The combination of mediators resulted in functional disability no longer being a significant predictor of hope. Conclusions: The strength-based constructs of proactive coping, self-esteem and social support appear effective in predicting hope regardless of severity of spinal cord injury. Functional disability was no longer predictive of hope after controlling for these strength-based constructs. Disability acceptance did not significantly add to the mediation model. These results provide further evidence for strength-based interventions in rehabilitation. Implications for Rehabilitation Strength-based constructs of proactive coping, self-esteem and social support are important factors for addressing hope following spinal cord injury, regardless of level of severity. Rehabilitation services providers should focus efforts on supporting clients in the accurate appraisal of predictable stressors and then generate means for addressing them as a form of proactive coping. Rehabilitation services providers must be cautious when addressing self-esteem to focus on perceived competence and learning processes rather than self-esteem directly or through the accomplishment of goals that may not be achieved. Knowing that social supports are related to hope post-spinal cord injury, it is important for rehabilitation services providers to recognize potential social supports early in the rehabilitation process and involve those social supports in the rehabilitation process when possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1672-1683
Number of pages12
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Issue number17
StatePublished - Aug 13 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Rehabilitation


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