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The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on individuals living with spinal cord injury: A qualitative study.

LaVela SL, Wu J, Nevedal AL, Harris AHS, Frayne SM, Arnow KD, Barreto NB, Davis K, Eisenberg D. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on individuals living with spinal cord injury: A qualitative study. Rehabilitation Psychology. 2023 Feb 1; 68(1):12-24.

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PURPOSE/OBJECTIVE: To explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as experienced and reported by individuals living with a spinal cord injury (SCI). RESEARCH METHOD/DESIGN: Descriptive qualitative design using in-depth semistructured interviews with individuals with SCI ( = 33) followed by thematic analysis. RESULTS: Three main themes described impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. (a) Impact on health care use; subthemes elaborated that this was attributable to in-person health care facility restrictions or individual decisions to delay care. Individuals with SCI experienced lapses in primary and SCI-specialty care, rehabilitation/therapy services, and home care, but some made use of telehealth services. (b) Impact on weight and/or weight management lifestyle behaviors; subthemes discussed that engagement in physical activity declined because of fitness center closures, recreational activity cancellations, and safety precautions limiting community-based and outdoor activities. The pandemic disrupted participants'' independence in purchasing and making preferred food selections which impacted healthy eating. Participants ate due to boredom, at nonmealtimes, and consumed unhealthy foods during the pandemic. (c) Impact on psychosocial factors; included subthemes noting reduced social interactions, social participation, and ability to pursue pastimes with family, friends, and groups they belonged to. The pandemic also triggered emotional reactions such as worry, fear, doubt, demotivation, and feelings of social isolation. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings highlight the magnitude of consequences faced by individuals with SCI when restrictions to health care, healthy lifestyle endeavors, and social participation occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings may inform SCI health care providers on what is needed in response to future public health or natural disaster crises. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).

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