Preventive Skin Care Beliefs of People with Spinal Cord Injury


  • Rosemarie B. King PhD RN,

    Research Associate ProfessorSearch for more papers by this author
    • Rosemarie B. King, PhD RN, is a research associate professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, and a senior research associate at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL.

  • Stacey L. Porter MSW MS,

    Doctoral Student in Industrial Organizational PsychologySearch for more papers by this author
    • Stacey L. Porter, MSW MS, is a doctoral student in industrial organizational psychology at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL.

  • Kristen Balfanz Vertiz MSW

    Director of Extended Care ServicesSearch for more papers by this author
    • Kristen Balfanz Vertiz, MSW, is director of extended care services at Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital, Chicago, IL.


Although health beliefs have been correlated with self-care adherence in other chronic conditions, little is known about skin care beliefs after spinal cord injury (SCI). The purpose of this qualitative study was to identify the skin care beliefs of individuals with SCI. The conceptual framework was the Health Belief Model (HBM), which proposes that adherence to a health regimen is motivated by beliefs about susceptibility, severity, barriers, benefits, and self-efficacy. Purposive sampling was used to recruit 22 people with SCI. Content analysis of data collected using semistructured questions was used to identify domains of skin care beliefs, including HBM components. Themes that emerged about skin care beliefs included taking vigilant care, taking charge, maintaining health, and passing up care. Although most participants believed they were susceptible to pressure ulcers and preventive care was important, paradoxical statements about beliefs and preventive behaviors were common. These incongruent responses may reflect ambivalence about competing priorities or the efficacy of preventive practices. Further research is needed to understand this phenomenon. Increased understanding of skin care beliefs will assist in developing tailored teaching programs for people with SCI.