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Rehabilitation Research and Practice
Volume 2016, Article ID 9373786, 13 pages
Review Article

Factors Which Facilitate or Impede Interpersonal Interactions and Relationships after Spinal Cord Injury: A Scoping Review with Suggestions for Rehabilitation

1Spinal Outreach Team, Metro South Health, P.O. Box 6053, Buranda, QLD 4102, Australia
2Transitional Rehabilitation Program, Metro South Health and Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University, Meadowbrook, QLD 4131, Australia
3Centre for Functioning & Health Research, Metro South Health and Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University, Meadowbrook, QLD 4131, Australia

Received 18 August 2016; Revised 20 October 2016; Accepted 16 November 2016

Academic Editor: Stephen Sprigle

Copyright © 2016 Delena Amsters et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Interpersonal interactions and relationships can influence an individual’s perceptions of health and quality of life in the presence of disability. In the case of people with spinal cord injury (SCI), positive interpersonal interactions and relationships have been shown to contribute to resilience and adaptability. Understanding factors which facilitate or impede the development and maintenance of relationships after SCI may form the basis for proactive relationship support for people with SCI. To gain a broad insight into these factors, a scoping review was undertaken. Databases were searched for English language studies published between 2000 and 2015 that informed the review question. Sixty-two (62) studies were identified. Thematic analysis was conducted on data extracted from the studies and 51 factors which may facilitate relationships and 38 factors which may impede relationships after SCI were noted. The majority of factors could be categorized as environmental or personal according to the domains of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF). The facilitating factors included partner and social support, reciprocity in relationships, and presenting oneself positively. Impeding factors included physical environmental barriers, real and perceived social biases, and poor self-image. Factors identified may inform the provision of supportive, holistic rehabilitation for people with SCI.