Do racial and ethnic minority patients fare worse after SCI? A critical review of the literature

Kelli W. Gary, Elizabeth Nicholls, Aisha Shamburger, Lillian F. Stevens, Juan C. Arango-Lasprilla

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


A number of researchers have identified differences in SCI outcomes between racial and ethnic groups, but findings have never been synthesized to give clinicians and researchers a coherent picture of the problem. The goals of the current project were to (1) conduct a critical literature review of studies specifically investigating racial and ethnic disparities in spinal cord injury care, services, and outcomes; (2) explore possible causative factors that may explain these disparities; (3) propose strategies that may reduce disparities and improve access, service, and outcomes for minority patients with SCI; and (4) generate ideas for future research in this area. A search using MEDLINE/PubMed, PsycINFO, CINAHL, and HealthSource resulted in 49 articles discussing hospital, mental health, physical functioning, employment, quality of life, and family outcomes. Results indicated that after an SCI, racial and ethnic minority groups have shorter hospital lengths of stay, higher rehospitalizations rates, higher levels of depression, more days in poor health, greater degrees of unemployment, more difficulties with mobility, lower self-reported subjective well-being and quality of life and life satisfaction, and greater risk of marital breakup. A variety of causative factors, intervention strategies, and directions for future research are presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-293
Number of pages19
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Spinal cord injury
  • ethnicity
  • minorities
  • outcomes
  • race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Neurology


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