Spinal Cord Injury Peer Mentorship: Applying Self-Determination Theory to Explain Quality of Life and Participation

Published:September 22, 2017DOI:



      To investigate the role of spinal cord injury (SCI) peer mentorship on quality of life (QoL)/participation, and test a self-determination theory model that explains the role of SCI peer mentorship on these outcomes.


      A static group comparison design.




      A convenience sample of mentees (individuals receiving peer mentorship) (n=68) and nonmentees (n=63) who had an SCI, were older than 18 years, and spoke either English or French.


      Mentees: at least 4 peer mentorship sessions over the past 5 years; nonpeer mentees: 0 or 1 brief introductory session.

      Main Outcome Measures

      QoL (ie, life satisfaction and positive and negative affect), participation (eg, autonomous indoor; family role), and the psychological needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness.


      No group differences were found, but years since injury was a moderator indicating that, generally, peer mentees living with SCI for longer (∼30y) appear to benefit more from peer mentorship interactions compared with nonmentees and mentees living with SCI for approximately 6 years. Competence and relatedness mediated the peer mentorship–outcome relationship for QoL and some participation variables, indicating that peer mentorship predicted competence and relatedness, which in turn were related to the outcomes.


      Satisfaction of competence and relatedness needs requires greater attention in SCI peer mentorship. Years since injury modified the relationship between peer mentorship and outcomes, which provided new insights on the role of SCI peer mentorship. Further studies are needed to determine SCI peer mentorship–specific outcomes that are important across the years-since-injury spectrum.


      List of abbreviations:

      ANCOVA (analysis of covariance), bCI (bias-corrected confidence interval), QoL (quality of life), SCI (spinal cord injury), SDT (self-determination theory), YSI (years since injury)
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