Quality of life among individuals with rugby-related spinal cord injuries in South Africa: A descriptive cross-sectional study

Marelise Badenhorst, James Craig Brown, Mike I. Lambert, Willem Van Mechelen, Evert Verhagen

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives Rugby-related spinal cord injuries (SCIs) are rare but life altering and traumatic events. Little is known about the long-term consequences and outcomes of players who have sustained these injuries. This study investigated current quality of life (QoL) and factors associated with QoL, among individuals with rugby-related SCI in South Africa, by using the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) framework. Design Descriptive cross-sectional study. Setting Rugby-related SCI population of South Africa, as captured in the BokSmart/Chris Burger Petro Jackson Players' Fund database. Participants Ninety (n=90) of the 102 eligible players on the database agreed to participate in the study. Main outcome measure The relationship between QoL, as measured with the WHO Quality of Life questionnaire (WHOQOL-BREF) and specific independent variables (demographic information, level of independence and participation in various activities and life roles) was investigated. Variables that were significantly associated with QoL in bivariate analyses were included in multiple linear regression analyses. Results The mean score and SD of the WHOQOL-BREF was 15.1±2.3 arbitrary units. Participation (an ICF framework construct) and income were significantly associated with overall QoL (p<0.001). Participation was the only variable significantly associated with all QoL subdomains (p<0.001). Additionally, number of health concerns, type of healthcare (public vs private) and level of education were significantly associated with various QoL domains (p<0.001). Conclusions On average, these individuals with rugby-related SCI presented with higher QoL scores than other comparable SCI studies. However, lower levels of participation and income, certain levels of education, increased health concerns and use of public healthcare were associated with lower levels of QoL. Sporting bodies have a responsibility to optimise player welfare, by acting on the modifiable factors associated with QoL.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere020890
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • Adult neurology
  • rehabilitation medicine
  • sports medicine

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