The association of internet use and depression among spinal cord injury population

I-Hsuan Tsai, The University of Texas School of Public Health


The purpose of this study was to exam the relationship between internet use and depression among a population of individuals who have sustained spinal cord injury. This was cross-sectional survey design conducted among spinal cord injury (SCI) patients in the Model Spinal Cord Injury System. We included a total of 1,011 SCI-patients who were interviewed face-to-face or by telephone interview over approximately a three year time period (2004–2006). All data were collected through a telephone survey which included the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) to assess depression. We examined various scales of this survey, included a reduced 3-item scale (items 1, 2 and 6) to avoid the presence of somatic symptoms among SCI patients from influencing classification of depression. The frequency of internet usage was grouped as daily/weekly/monthly/non user. Covariates examined as possible confounders included demographic characteristics, occupational status, educational level, injury type, daily function of living, pain level, self-perceived health status and satisfaction with life. We observed a negative association between the frequency of internet use and the level of depression. Daily use of internet was associated with lower PHQ-9 score and depression; however this association did not reach statistical significance after for the mentioned covariates. In conclusion, the factors related to lower depression in SCI patients who use the internet are complicated. Daily internet usage was associated with lower levels of depression. The accuracy of 3-item scale needs further validation and investigation. Further study of internet usage pattern in SCI patient is recommended.

Subject Area

Physical therapy|Social psychology|Epidemiology

Recommended Citation

Tsai, I-Hsuan, "The association of internet use and depression among spinal cord injury population" (2009). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1467468.