First Advisor

Richard Schulz

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies and Planning




Social psychology, Spinal cord -- Wounds and injuries -- Social aspects, Spinal cord -- Wounds and injuries -- Psychological aspects, Paralytics -- Psychology



Physical Description

3, viii, 164 leaves 28 cm.


Advances in health care science are enabling greater numbers of spinal cord injured persons to live to old age. As these persons grow older, there may be additional problems in coping due to stressors such as decreasing health and income and loss of significant others. The purpose of this study was to determine those factors that contribute to the well-being of middle-aged and elderly community-residing spinal cord injured persons. One hundred spinal cord injured persons ranging in age from 40 to 73 were interviewed. Extensive data were collected in order to investigate the relationship among social support, types of social comparisons made, perceived control, health status and psychological well-being and life satisfaction. In general, respondents reported a degree of well-being that was slightly lower than that reported in studies of nondisabled populations on the same measures of psychological well-being, life satisfaction, and depression. Pearson correlations and multiple linear regressions showed that persons reporting high levels of well-being made favorable social comparisons, reported high levels of perceived control over their lives, had high levels of social support, and judged their health status to be good. They also viewed their disability more favorably and tended to have higher incomes, more education, to be employed, and to be more religious than those indicating lower levels of well-being. The severity of the spinal cord injury was not correlated highly with subjective well-being, although there was a tendency for persons with greater disabilities to report lower levels of well-being. Persons who were younger and who incurred their disability at a younger age also tended to report higher levels of well-being. A model of well-being is proposed. This model suggests that social support fosters the perception of control and the making of favorable social comparisons which, in turn, foster a sense of well-being and satisfaction with life. This model provides direction for future research and has valuable implications for clinical application.


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Portland State University. School of Urban and Public Affairs.

Persistent Identifier