Peer support need fulfillment among adults with spinal cord injury: relationships with participation, life satisfaction and individual characteristics
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PURPOSE: To test the hypothesis among people with spinal cord injury (SCI) that greater fulfillment of peer support needs to be associated with greater participation and life satisfaction. A secondary objective was to identify characteristics of people in great need of SCI peer support. METHOD: The participants consisted of a population-based sample of 1549 adults with SCI. The participants completed a survey with questions on peer support, participation, life satisfaction and provided demographic and SCI-related information. A secondary analysis of cross-sectional survey data was conducted. A set of regression analyses tested the primary purpose and a partition analysis was conducted to examine the secondary objective. RESULTS: In regression analyses, peer support need fulfillment was positively associated with autonomous-outdoors participation (p < 0.05), health participation (p < 0.05), and work/education participation (p < 0.05), as well as life satisfaction (p < 0.001) after controlling demographic and SCI-related variables. However, peer support need fulfillment was not related with overall participation or other subdomains of participation: autonomy indoors, social relationships and family role. The number of unmet SCI-related needs, injury characteristics and education were associated with fulfillment of SCI peer support needs. CONCLUSIONS: The results provide some evidence that SCI peer support plays an important role in promoting participation and life satisfaction. Individuals with many SCI-related unmet needs are most likely to report a need for peer support. IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATION: The receipt of peer support after a spinal cord injury (SCI) is positively related to aspects of social participation and life satisfaction. Provision of peer support can play an important role in the SCI rehabilitation process. Education, injury-related characteristics, and the number of other unmet needs are factors that rehabilitation professionals can use to identify those in particular need of peer support. Rehabilitation professionals should encourage patients who have sustained an SCI, to participate in peer support programs.
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