Utilization and Access to Healthcare Services Among People Living with Spinal Cord Injuries in the Community




Noorani, Shayan


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Healthcare for individuals following spinal cord injury (SCI) plays a significant and necessary role in reducing an individual’s risk of managing and preventing associated, secondary, or chronic conditions. Barriers alongside secondary, associated, and chronic issues prevent a viable access to healthcare. Some of these factors include age, income, race, medical insurance type, accessible resources, skill and knowledge of physicians, ER visits, and preventative health measures. This research project will use a cross sectional study design with a survey that utilizes the previously mentioned factors. The purpose of this study is to describe the utilization, accessibility, and satisfaction of primary and preventative health-care services of community-dwelling individuals with SCI. The population sampled was the former inpatient and current outpatient individuals with SCI at a rehabilitation hospital. There were 142 subjects in the study. Of these, 42 were administered the survey by phone and 100 were surveyed in person during a routine follow-up visit. Approximately 99% of individuals in the current sample reported that they had healthcare visits in the past 12 months. Results of the current project also indicated that PCP’s (79%) were the most frequently visited physicians, followed by SCI/Rehab physicians (77%) and urologists (50%). Individuals with SCI also had a high number of ED visits (43% of sample within the past 12-months). The primary reasons for ED visits for the current sample were genital/urological (15%), wounds/skin problems (5%), and pneumonia (4%). Of note, individuals who visited the ER had a lower Geo Unit Quality Score and were less likely to have a post-secondary education. For preventative health services, patients with SCI also reported similar utilization to previous SCI research and data from the general population. Accessibility did not present as a major issue with SCI physicians, and the majority of the study population was satisfied with their physicians. Consequently, further accessibility for individuals with disabilities should be implemented and other barriers should be ameliorated throughout the healthcare industry. Further research and analysis on socio-demographic factors such as transportation, work-related issues, quality of life, needs for better healthcare, and psychological factors can assist in learning more about the needs of individuals with SCI.