Body Image in Patients With Spinal Cord Injury During Inpatient Rehabilitation

Tijn van Diemen*, Christel van Leeuwen, Ilse van Nes, Jan Geertzen, Marcel Post

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Objectives: (1) To investigate the course of body image in patients with spinal cord injury (SCI) during their first inpatient rehabilitation stay; and (2) to explore the association between demographic and injury-related variables and body image and the association between body image and psychological distress.

Design: Longitudinal inception cohort study.

Setting: Rehabilitation center.

Participants: Of the 210 people admitted for their first inpatient SCI rehabilitation program (between March 2011 and April 2015), 188 met the inclusion criteria. Of these, N=150 (80%) agreed to participate.

Interventions: Not applicable.

Main Outcome Measure: The Body Experience Questionnaire was used to measure 2 dimensions of body image: alienation and harmony.

Results: Mean scores on the Body Experience Questionnaire alienation subscale decreased significantly during the rehabilitation program. Mean scores on the Body Experience Questionnaire harmony subscale did not increase significantly but showed a trend in the hypothesized direction. The 2 subscales showed weak correlations with demographic and injury-related variables. The 2 subscales together explained 16% and 14% of the variance of depression and anxiety, respectively, after correction for demographic and injury-related variables.

Conclusions: During participants' first inpatient rehabilitation stay after SCI, body image progressed toward a healthier state. Body image explains part of the variance in depression and anxiety, and the entire rehabilitation team should be targeting interventions to improve body image. (C) 2016 by the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1126-1131
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2017


  • Body image
  • Emotional adjustment
  • Rehabilitation
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • PAIN

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