Volume 56 | Number S3 | December 2021

Abstract List

Diana Pacheco Barzallo Ph.D, Ana MSc, Armin Ph.D


To estimate and compare unmet health care needs of persons with spinal cord injury (SCI) across countries, the causes of these shortfalls, and the role of income.

Data Sources

We analyzed cross‐sectional data of 20 countries from the International Spinal Cord Injury (InSCI) survey, a compendium of comparable data on the living situation of persons with SCI. Data included information on high‐, middle‐, and low‐income countries. The survey comprises information on 12,095 participants.

Study Design

We used logit regressions to estimate the probability of unmet health care needs of persons with SCI and its causes. We adjusted the results by the individuals' characteristics and countries' fixed effects. We disaggregated the results by income decile of individuals in each country.

Data Collection/Extraction Methods

The inclusion criteria for the InSCI survey were adults aged 18 years and older with SCI living in the community, who were able to respond to the survey and who provided informed consent.

Principal Findings

Unmet health care needs are significant for people with long‐term conditions like SCI, where people in low‐income groups tend to be more affected. Among the barriers to meeting health care needs, the foremost is health care cost (in 11 of the 20 countries), followed by transportation and service availability. Persons with SCI in Morocco reported the highest probability of unmet health care needs in the sample, 0.54 (CI: 047–0.59), followed well behind by South Africa, 0.27 (CI: 0.20–0.33), and Brazil, 0.26 (CI: 0.20–0.33). In contrast, persons with SCI in Spain, 0.06 (CI: 0.04–0.08), reported the lowest probability of unmet health care needs, closely followed by Norway, 0.07 (CI: 0.05–0.09), Thailand, 0.08 (CI: 0.05–0.11), France, 0.08 (CI: 0.06–0.11), and Switzerland, 0.09 (CI: 0.07–0.10).


SCI is a long‐term, irreversible health condition characterized by physical impairment and a series of chronic illness. This makes SCI a high‐need, high‐cost group that faces significant unmet health care needs, which are mainly explained by the costs of health services, transportation, and services availability. This situation is prevalent in low‐, middle‐, and high‐income countries, where persons in lower income groups are disproportionately affected. To improve the situation, a combination of measures from the health and social systems are required.