Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Study protocol
A longitudinal study of the life histories of people with spinal cord injury
  1. Martin Sullivan1,
  2. Charlotte E Paul2,
  3. G Peter Herbison2,
  4. Peina Tamou1,
  5. Sarah Derrett3,
  6. Maureen Crawford1
  1. 1School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
  2. 2Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  3. 3Injury Prevention Research Unit, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sarah Derrett, IPRU, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, PO Box 913, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand; sarah.derrett{at}


Background Approximately 70–80 New Zealanders have spinal cord impairment (SCI) due to injury (2/3) or disease (1/3) each year. They had been socialised as non-disabled people. Following paralysis, interrelationships between body, self and society change. Little is known of the impact of these changes on life histories, life chances and life choices of people with SCI. This has negative implications for the design of rehabilitation and disability support services in New Zealand. Furthermore, the trajectory of disability is affected by previous socioeconomic conditions. How specific supports following SCI (eg, rehabilitation and compensation funded by the Accident Compensation Corporation; ACC) can change this trajectory is unknown.

Objectives To explore the interrelationships of body, self and society for people with SCI and how these have shaped life chances, life choices and subjectivity. To investigate how entitlement to rehabilitation and compensation through ACC affects socioeconomic and health outcomes.

Setting New Zealand.

Design A prospective cohort study; mixed methods.

Participants 112 people with SCI admitted for the first time to one of New Zealand's two spinal units without serious cognitive injury.

Data Structured interviews with all participants (n=112); qualitative interviews with a selected subgroup (n=20); clinical data collected at the time of admission. Exposures include: demographics, comorbidity, previoius health and socioeconomic status, SCI resulting from illness or injury, income support, health and social services.

Outcome measures Socioeconomic status, health, participation and life satisfaction.

Analysis Descriptive statistics; differences tested by paired t tests or McNemar tests; multiple regression and mixed models. Qualitative analysis will be interpretive.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Funding This study was funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the New Zealand Multiregion Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.