Cohort profile of the international spinal cord injury community survey implemented in 22 countries


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Objectives: To detail the methodological features of the first International Spinal Cord Injury (InSCI) Community Survey by describing recruitment and data collection procedures, and to report on the recruitment results and basic characteristics of participants by country and income setting. Design: Cross-sectional survey. Setting: Community setting in 22 countries representing all 6 World Health Organization regions. Participants: Individuals (N=12,591) with traumatic or non-traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) aged over 18 years. Interventions: Not applicable. Main Outcome Measures: Recruitment and data collection procedures, recruitment results, and basic sociodemographic and lesion characteristics of participants. Results: Eight countries used predefined sampling frames and 14 countries applied convenience sampling for recruitment. Most countries recruited participants through specialized rehabilitation facilities, patient organizations, or acute and general hospitals. Modes of approaching potential participants depended on the sampling strategy and multiple response modes were offered to maximize participation. Contact rates ranged from 33% to 98%, cooperation rates ranged from 29% to 90%, and response rates ranged from 23% to 54%. The majority of participants were men (73%), the median age was 52 years (interquartile range, 40-63y), 60% had a partner, 8% reported that they were born in another country than where they were currently residing, and the median length of education was 12 years (interquartile range, 9-15y). Paraplegia was the main diagnosis (63%), traumatic etiologies were the major cause of injury (81%), and the median time since injury (TSI) was 9 years (interquartile range, 4-19y). Compared with participants from lower income settings, participants from higher income settings were over-represented and, in general, were older, more often diagnosed with tetraplegia, had a longer TSI, higher education, and were more often born in a country different than their current residence country. Conclusions: The successful implementation of the InSCI survey enables the comparison of the situation of individuals with SCI around the world and constitutes a crucial starting point for an international learning experience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2103-2111
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Rehabilitation
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Surveys and questionnaires


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