Content » Vol 43, Issue 10

Original report

Coping with spinal cord injury: Tenacious goal pursuit and flexible goal adjustment

Wim van Lankveld, Tijn van Diemen, Ilse van Nes
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-0870


Objective: To investigate the correlation of higher-order coping strategies of tenacious goal pursuit and flexible goal adjustment with adjustment after rehabilitation in spinal cord injury.
Design: Cross-sectional correlational study.
Subjects/patients: All 397 eligible patients entered for spinal cord rehabilitation between 1999 and 2009 were contacted and 130 (33%) agreed to complete a self-report questionnaire.
Methods: Partial correlations were computed between tenacious goal pursuit and flexible goal adjustment and affective and cognitive psychological adjustment. Demographics, spinal cord injury related variables, social support and coping were used as control variables.
Results: After controlling for relevant demographic, medical and social support indices, partial correlations between tenacious goal pursuit and indices of adaptation were not significant. Significant partial correlations were observed between flexible goal adjustment and each of the indices of adjustment (r = –0. 33, –0. 42, 0. 51, –0. 38, respectively, for depression, anxiety, acceptance, and helplessness) after controlling for all relevant variables in the model. Flexible goal adjustment explained significant additional proportions of variance for each of the adjustment indices (7%, 11%, 18%, and 7%, respectively).
Conclusion: Flexible goal adjustment, but not tenacious goal pursuit, is associated with psychological adjustment in spinal cord injury. Further research is needed to understand the mechanisms of flexible goal adjustment. Interventions targeting flexible goal adjustment might be of benefit for the patient.

Lay Abstract


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