Study design: Cross-sectional survey
Objectives: To describe computer and Internet use (other than for work or study) among people with long-standing spinal cord injury (SCI), examine associations between demographic and lesion characteristics and Internet use, and examine associations between Internet use and mental health, participation, and life satisfaction.
Setting: Community, The Netherlands
Methods: Participants were 265 individuals living with SCI for at least 10 years, who were 18-35 at the onset of SCI, aged 28-65 at the time of the study and wheelchair-user. Scales for General and Health-related Internet use were developed.
Results: Nearly all (97.7%) participants had Internet access and 98.4% of those used it daily or weekly. Of those with tetraplegia, 47.4% had assistive devices for computer use. General Internet use, such as following news and online banking, was very frequent. Websites with information on general health or accessibility were typically visited a few times a year. Three-quarters never visited websites of other individuals with SCI or foreign websites with information on SCI. General Internet use was associated with male gender, younger age, and higher education. Participants with tetraplegia scored higher on Health-related Internet use compared to participants with paraplegia. Health-related Internet use was associated with worse participation, but not with the other psychosocial variables.
Conclusion: Internet has become part of daily life of people with SCI in the Netherlands. However, only one association between Internet use and indicators of psychosocial functioning was found. Possible underuse of adaptive devices and of SCI-specific websites warrant further investigation.
- INFORMATION NEEDS
- UTRECHT SCALE