Major goals of rehabilitation and health interventions in people with spinal cord injury (SCI) are to improve functional independence, increase social participation, and enhance quality of life (QOL). Determining functional areas perceived by consumers as most important can assist in research prioritization, planning for delivery of health services, and policy development. Five high priority areas of functioning for the SCI population (arm/hand use, walking, bladder/bowel control, sexual function, and relief of pain) were chosen to determine the preferences for these five attributes. A discrete choice experiment was conducted involving 151 persons with SCI sampled from Australia and the United States of America. Consistent with prior research, arm/hand function had the highest preference, with odds ratios of subjects being 44-76% more likely to choose arm/hand function over the other four functions. Preference for normal arm/hand function was found to be significantly more preferred by the group with paraplegia compared with those with tetraplegia; that is, retaining and not trading off existing arm/hand function for other improved functions. There were no significant differences found in preferences between bladder/bowel function and walking or elimination of pain, although walking was preferred in earlier (≤ 10) post-injury years and pain amelioration became more important with a longer duration (>10 years) post-injury. Sexual function had the lowest preference when traded against the other four functions. Understanding the functional preferences of persons with SCI will help to inform future research design, as well as enabling successful translation of research into practice and health policy, meeting the needs of people with SCI.
- Discrete choice experiments
- Priority functions