In reportedly the first investigation of residential mobility among a national sample of adults with spinal cord injury, researchers from the federally funded Spinal Cord Injury Model System determined that one in four people moved after spinal cord injury over a 5-year period. Moving was more commonly observed among young adults, people from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds, and people from low-income households.

The study was published in Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

The authors are Amanda L. Botticello, PhD, MPH, and Lauren Murphy, PhD, of Kessler Foundation, Jennifer Bogner, PhD, of Ohio State University, Michael Boninger, MD, of University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Thomas N. Bryce, MD, of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Yuying Chen, MD, PhD, of University of Alabama at Birmingham, Allen W. Heinemann, PhD, of Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, and Mary Joan Roach, PhD, of Case Western University and MetroHealth System. Dr. Botticello also has an academic appointment at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

The places where people live can significantly shape daily experience with disability. Living in a socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhood increases the risk for poor health, low community participation, and diminished quality of life, whereas living in a neighborhood with green space and less density improves perceived health, well-being, and community integration. Clearly, there is value in including residential neighborhood characteristics as key social determinants of health in outcomes studies.

One metric had not been studied: how often and where people move after spinal cord injury. Having up-to-date information about residential mobility is crucial to developing more targeted investigations involving the social determinants of health. Moreover, without data specific to residential mobility among people with spinal cord injury, it is difficult to understand the complex relationships between neighborhood factors, health, and disability that affect this population, Kessler Foundation explains in a media release.

Residential Mobility Patterns

In this study, researchers identified residential mobility patterns in people with spinal cord injury by conducting a retrospective analysis of data from the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, collected between 2006 and 2018, and linking it with neighborhood characteristics from the American Community Survey. The 4,599 survey participants had traumatic spinal cord injury who participated in two waves of follow-up surveys.

Thirty-five percent of all movers relocated to a high-poverty census tract. In addition, the research team found that high poverty and racial or ethnic segregation in the origin neighborhood predicted an increased risk for people with spinal cord injury to remain in or move to a high-poverty neighborhood.

“These results are important because changing residences can be a large undertaking, particularly for a person with a disability due to a lack of accessible housing. Oftentimes, that change can be for positive. However, our data suggests that many people with SCI are moving to more, not less, disadvantaged circumstances.

“This increases the risk for health disparities and poorer long-term outcomes. We anticipate that our findings will inform policymakers’ considerations of housing, healthcare, and employment initiatives for people with spinal cord injury and other chronic disabilities.”

— Amanda L. Botticello, PhD, MPH, lead author and Assistant Director of the Centers for Spinal Cord Injury Research and Outcomes & Assessment Research

[Source(s): Kessler Foundation, EurekAlert]

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