Longitudinal SCI Study

A longitudinal study of the life histories of people with spinal cord injury

Project team: Sullivan M, Derrett S, Beaver C, Paul C, Herbison P.

Associate investigators: Dr Sue McAllister

IPRU contact: Sarah Derrett

Funding:        Health Research Council of New Zealand (2007-2011)

Rob Porter Education Fund in Spinal Research (2016)

The aims of the study are to: 1) explore the interrelationship(s) of body, self and society for people with SCI and how these interrelationships shape their life chances, life choices and subjectivity; and 2) investigate how entitlement to rehabilitation and compensation through ACC (injury group) affects socioeconomic and health outcomes were invited to participate in this longitudinal study.

People experiencing SCI and admitted, for the first time, to one of New Zealand’s two spinal units over a 24-month period were eligible for inclusion. Interviews were held 4, 12 and 24 months post-SCI. Additional in-depth qualitative interviews were held with a sub-sample 6 and 18 months after discharge. A further round of interviews is currently being undertaken with participants who are now 6-7 years post-discharge from the spinal units. Findings are intended to deepen understanding of the social impacts of SCI, provide information to assist rehabilitation, and indicate whether specific aspects of ACC provision should be available to those with chronic illness – to contribute to reducing health inequalities.


Bourke, J. A., Nunnerley, J. L., Sullivan, M., & Derrett, S. (2019). Relationships and the transition from spinal units to community for people with a first spinal cord injury: A New Zealand qualitative study. Disability & Health Journal, 12(2), 257-262. doi: 10.1016/j.dhjo.2018.09.001

Richardson, A., Samaranayaka, A., Sullivan, M., & Derrett, S. (2019). Secondary health conditions and disability among people with spinal cord injury: A prospective cohort study. Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/10790268.2019.1581392

Sullivan M, Derrett S, Paul C, Beaver C, Stace H. (2014) Using Mixed Methods to Build Research Capacity Within the Spinal Cord Injured Population of New Zealand. Journal of Mixed Methods Research. First published on-line March 25; doi: 10.1177/1558689814527942.

http://10.1177/1558689814527942Paul C, Derrett S, McAllister S, Herbison P, Beaver C, Sullivan M. (2013) Socioeconomic outcomes following spinal cord injury and the role of no-fault compensation: longitudinal study. Spinal Cord; 51, 919–925; doi: 10.1038/sc.2013.110.

Derrett S, Beaver C, Sullivan MJ, Herbison GP, Acland R, Paul C. (2012) Traumatic and non-traumatic spinal cord impairment in New Zealand: Incidence and characteristics of people admitted to spinal units. Injury Prevention; 18:343-346; doi: 11.1136/injuryprev-2011-040266.

Sullivan M, Paul CE, Herbison GP, Tamou P, Derrett S, Crawford M. (2010) A longitudinal study of the life histories of people with spinal cord injury. Injury Prevention; 16(e3); 16:1-9; doi: 10.1136/ip.2010.028134.

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