Purpose/Objective: To provide a descriptive account of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the spinal cord injury (SCI) community focused on participants’ concerns about medical discrimination and medical rationing, the impact of the pandemic on access to personal care attendants and medical supplies, and the impact of the pandemic on overall and mental health. Research Method/Design: Cross sectional, observational study among community-dwelling adults with SCI. Data were collected online between May 1, 2020 and August 31, 2020 (n = 187). The online questionnaire included questions regarding medical discrimination and rationing, the impact of the pandemic on access to care and medical supplies, and the impact of the pandemic on overall and mental health. Results: Individuals with SCI have experienced difficulty accessing medical supplies due to the pandemic, and approximately half of our participants (52%) perceived that discrimination through medical rationing was occurring. Furthermore, compared to the general U.S. population, our sample reported that the pandemic had a greater negative impact on their mental health and access to medical supplies. Conclusion/Implications: Our findings suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted mental health and increased concerns of social isolation as well as access to medical supplies among those with SCI. Rehabilitation psychologists must advocate alongside the disability community to limit health disparities and to conduct outreach, specifically with regard to mental health issues. Future research should focus on the effects of pandemic-related fears and social isolation, as well as resilience in the context of public health care threats.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2021. American Psychological Association
- Medical discrimination
- Medical rationing
- Mental health
- Spinal cord injury