Quality and Equity in Wheelchairs Used by Veterans

Larissa Myaskovsky, Shasha Gao, Leslie R.M. Hausmann, Kellee R. Bornemann, Kelly H. Burkitt, Galen E. Switzer, Michael J. Fine, Samuel L. Phillips, David Gater, Ann M. Spungen, Lynn Worobey, Michael L. Boninger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objectives To assess in Veterans with spinal cord injury (SCI) or amputated limb (AL) the following: (1) patient demographics, medical factors, cultural and psychosocial characteristic by race; (2) wheelchair quality by race; and (3) the independent associations of patient race and the other factors with wheelchair quality. Design Cross-sectional cohort study. Setting Three Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers affiliated with academic medical centers. Participants Eligible participants were Veterans with SCI or ALs (N=516); 482 of them completed the interview. Analyses were restricted to white and African American participants. Because there was no variation in wheelchair quality among AL patients (n=42), they were excluded from all but descriptive analyses, leading to a final sample size of 421. Interventions Not applicable. Main Outcome Measure Wheelchair quality as defined by the Medicare Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System. Results We found race differences in many of our variables, but not in quality for manual (odds ratio [OR]=.67; 95% confidence interval [CI], .33–1.36) or power (OR=.82; 95% CI, .51–1.34) wheelchairs. Several factors including age (OR=.96; 95% CI, .93–.99) and income (OR=3.78; 95% CI, 1.43–9.97) were associated with wheelchair quality. There were no significant associations of cultural or psychosocial factors with wheelchair quality. Conclusions Although there were no racial differences in wheelchair quality, we found a significant association of older age and lower income with poorer wheelchair quality among Veterans. Efforts are needed to raise awareness of such disparities among VA wheelchair providers and to take steps to eliminate these disparities in prescription practice across VA sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)442-449
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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