Original Research

Associations between health behaviour, secondary health conditions and quality of life in people with spinal cord injury

Mokgadi K. Mashola, Diphale J. Mothabeng
African Journal of Disability | Vol 8 | a463 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v8i0.463 | © 2019 Mokgadi K. Mashola, Diphale J. Mothabeng | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 November 2017 | Published: 11 June 2019

About the author(s)

Mokgadi K. Mashola, Department of Physiotherapy, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Diphale J. Mothabeng, Department of Physiotherapy, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


Background: The development of secondary health conditions (SHCs) after spinal cord injury (SCI) is common and can affect an individual’s emotional well-being, and his or her health-related quality of life (QOL). Little is known about relationships between performing health-benefiting behaviours and the presence (or absence) of SHCs and QOL, particularly in South Africa.

Objectives: This research study was conducted in order to determine the associations between health behaviour, SHCs and QOL in people with SCI (PWSCI).

Method: This cross-sectional study included 36 PWSCI discharged from a private rehabilitation facility in Pretoria, South Africa. The PWSCI completed questionnaires pertaining to lifestyle, independence, presence of SHCs, social support and QOL. Data were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics such as correlation tests and chi-square test of independence (x2) using the SPSS v25. Moderate, moderately high and high correlations are reported (Pearson r ≥ 0.4). Results were significant if p < 0.05.

Results: Participation in health-benefiting behaviour was associated with increased QOL (r = 0.457, p < 0.01) and increased social support from family and friends (r = 0.425, p < 0.01), which was associated with increased QOL (r = 0.671, p < 0.001). Not participating in specific neuromusculoskeletal health behaviours was found to be associated with the overall presence of SHCs (r = -0.426, p < 0.01).

Conclusions: Participating in health-benefiting behaviour can reduce the development of SHCs and subsequently increase QOL in PWSCI. Health professionals must focus on minimising the development of SHCs by providing specific education on good health-benefiting behaviour.


spinal cord injury; secondary health conditions; quality of life; physical activity; health behaviour; social support; social relationships


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Crossref Citations

1. Pain and its impact on functioning and disability in manual wheelchair users with spinal cord injury: a protocol for a mixed-methods study
Mokgadi Kholofelo Mashola, Elzette Korkie, Diphale Joyce Mothabeng
BMJ Open  vol: 11  issue: 1  first page: e044152  year: 2021  
doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-044152