Prediction of Psychological Distress Among Persons With Spinal Cord Injury or Acquired Brain Injury and Their Significant Others

POWER Grp, Eline W. M. Scholten, Marjolijn Ketelaar, Johanna M. A. Visser-Meily, Ellen H. Roels, Mirjam Kouwenhoven, Marcel W. M. Post*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Objectives: To identify intra- and interpersonal sociodemographic, injury-related, and psychological variables measured at admission of inpatient rehabilitation that predict psychological distress among dyads of individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) or acquired brain injury (ABI) and their significant others (ie, individuals close to the individual with a disability, mostly family members) 6 months after discharge. Differences in predictors were investigated for persons with SCI or ABI and their significant others and were compared between diagnoses.

Design: Prospective longitudinal study.

Setting: Twelve Dutch rehabilitation centers.

Participants: Dyads (N= 157) consisting of adults with SCI or ABI who were admitted to inpatient rehabilitation and their adult significant others.

Interventions: Not applicable.

Main Outcome Measures: Psychological distress (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale).

Results: Sociodemographic and injury-related variables were not or were only weakly associated with psychological distress among individuals with SCI or ABI and their significant others 6 months after discharge. Bivariately, higher baseline psychological distress, lower scores on adaptive psychological characteristics (combination of self-efficacy, proactive coping, purpose in life, resilience), and higher scores on maladaptive psychological characteristics (combination of passive coping, neuroticism, appraisals of threat and loss) were related to higher psychological distress, as well as crosswise between individuals with SCI or ABI and their significant others, although less strongly. Combined prediction models showed that psychological distress among persons with SCI or ABI was predicted by education level of their significant other, their own baseline psychological distress, and their own maladaptive psychological characteristics (explained variance, 41.9%). Among significant others, only their own baseline psychological distress predicted psychological distress (explained variance, 40.4%). Results were comparable across diagnoses.

Conclusions: Although a dyadic connection was shown, primarily one's own baseline psychological distress and psychological characteristics were important in the prediction of later psychological distress among both individuals with SCI or ABI and their significant others. Screening based on these variables could help to identify persons at risk for psychological distress. (C) 2020 by the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2093-2102
Number of pages10
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2020


  • Brain injuries
  • Caregivers
  • Mental health
  • Rehabilitation
  • Spinal cord injuries

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