ORIGINAL RESEARCH| Volume 103, ISSUE 4, P755-763, April 2022

Utilization of Complementary and Integrative Health Care by People With Spinal Cord Injury in the Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems: A Descriptive Study



      To characterize the use of complementary and integrative health care (CIH) by people with spinal cord injury.


      Cross-sectional self-report study.


      Participants were recruited from 5 Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems (SCIMS) centers across the United States.


      Not applicable.


      A total of 411 persons enrolled in the SCIMS completing their SCIMS follow-up interview between January 2017 and July 2019 (N = 411).

      Main Outcome Measures

      Participants completed a survey developed for this study that included questions about types of CIH currently and previously used, reasons for current and previous use, reasons for discontinuing use of CIH, and reasons for never using CIH since injury.


      Of the 411 respondents, 80.3% were current or previous users of CIH; 19.7% had not used CIH since injury. The most commonly used current types of CIH were multivitamins (40.0%) and massage (32.6%), whereas the most common previously used type of CIH was acupuncture (33.9%). General health and wellness (61.4%) and pain (31.2%) were the most common reasons for using CIH. The primary reason for discontinuing CIH was that it was not helpful (42.1%). The primary reason for not using CIH since injury was not knowing what options are available (40.7%).


      These results point to the importance for rehabilitation clinicians to be aware that their patients may be using 1 or more CIH approaches. Providers should be open to starting a dialogue to ensure the health and safety of their patients because there is limited information on safety and efficacy of CIH approaches in this population. These results also set the stage for further analysis of this data set to increase our knowledge in this area.


      List of abbreviations:

      CI (confidence interval), CIH (complementary and integrative health care), SCI (spinal cord injury), SCIMS (Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems), US (United States)
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