Article| Volume 85, ISSUE 3, P363-367, March 2004

Aging, gender, and spinal cord injury 1


      McColl MA, Charlifue S, Glass C, Lawson N, Savic G. Aging, gender, and spinal cord injury. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2004;85:363–7.


      To identify differences in the aging experiences of men and women with spinal cord injury (SCI).


      This study is part of a longitudinal international study of aging and SCI.


      Five centers in England, Canada, and the United States. Three were spinal cord rehabilitation facilities (Stoke-Mandeville Hospital, Southport Hospital, Craig Hospital) and 2 were community agencies (Ontario and Manitoba divisions of the Canadian Paraplegic Association).


      A matched sample of 67 men and 67 women with SCI for at least 20 years. The 2 groups were matched on age, country of origin, and duration of disability. Participants had an average age of 57 years and an average disability duration of almost 33 years.


      Not applicable.

      Main outcome measures

      Two measures were taken by interview: demographic form and current status interview. Five others were self-administered and returned by mail: the Perceived Stress Scale, Craig Handicap Assessment and Reporting Technique, Index of Psychological Well-Being, Current Problem Questionnaire, and Life Satisfaction Index.


      Although both sexes rated their quality of life about equally, women characterized their aging experience as “accelerated,” while men characterized it as “complicated.” Women reported more effects of pain, fatigue, and skin problems and more transportation problems. Men experienced more health problems, more diabetes, and more adaptive equipment changes. Older men and women with SCI spent their time differently, consistent with traditional gender roles.


      These results underline the need for gender-specific consideration of aging experiences associated with SCI and further emphasize the need for primary and preventive care to promote health and well-being as people with SCI survive into old age.


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