National Rehabilitation Hospital

Coping and Adjustment following Spinal Cord Injury in an Irish Population

Suzanne Meenan

The present study sought to develop a brief but effective group intervention to aid psychological adjustment for a spinal cord injured population in a busy rehabilitation hospital. It focussed on adaptive coping and appraisal skills using a variety of cognitive and positive psychology methods. Measures of coping strategies, appraisal skills and mood were collected before and after the intervention.

A follow up interview was conducted 2 weeks later. 21 participants were selected from an inpatient rehabilitation programme. Following the intervention, there was no evidence of change in coping strategies or mood. There was, however, evidence of change in the appraisal styles with a shift from a focus on threat and loss towards challenge. Additionally, 66% of the participants spontaneously acknowledged engaging in social comparison during the group process. Participants reported group interaction as a highlight of the intervention. This evidence suggests that a programme grounded in positive psychology focussing on appraisal change would be of great benefit to this population.