ORIGINAL RESEARCH| Volume 103, ISSUE 4, P822-831, April 2022

Who Moves After SCI? Individual, Health, and Neighborhood Predictors of Residential Mobility Among Participants in the National Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems Database


      • Residential mobility may affect the influence of neighborhood environmental factors.
      • People from vulnerable groups are more likely to relocate.
      • Residents of poor neighborhoods are likely to remain in distressed environments.



      To investigate residential mobility among community-living adults with spinal cord injury (SCI) and the individual, health, and neighborhood factors associated with the propensity to relocate.


      Retrospective analysis of data from the National SCI Model Systems (SCIMS) Database collected between 2006 and 2018 and linked with the American Community Survey 5-year estimates.




      Not applicable.


      People with traumatic SCI (N=4599) who participated in 2 waves of follow-up and had residential geographic identifiers at the census tract level.

      Main Outcome Measures

      Moving was a binary measure reflecting change in residential locations over a 5-year interval. Move distance distinguished nonmovers from local movers (different tracts within the same county) and long-distance movers (to different county or state). Move quality included 4 categories: stayed/low poverty tract, stayed/high poverty tract, moved/low poverty tract, and moved/high poverty tract.


      One in 4 people moved within a 5-year interval (n=1175). Of the movers, 55% relocated to a different census tract within the same county and 45% relocated to a different county or state. Thirty-five percent of all movers relocated to a high poverty census tract. Racial and ethnic minorities, people from low-income households, and younger adults were more likely to move, move locally, and relocate to a high poverty neighborhood. High poverty and racial/ethnic segregation in the origin neighborhood predicted an increased risk for remaining in or moving to a high poverty neighborhood.


      Although people with SCI relocated at a lower rate than has been reported in the general population, moving was a frequent occurrence postinjury. People from vulnerable groups were more likely to remain in or relocate to socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods, thus increasing the risk for health disparities and poorer long-term outcomes among minorities and people from low-income households. These findings inform policy makers’ considerations of housing, health care, and employment initiatives for individuals with SCI and other chronic disabilities.


      List of abbreviations:

      ACS (American Community Survey), BIC (Bayesian Information Criterion), SCI (spinal cord injury), SCIMS (Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems)
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