Key Points

A large majority of people with spinal cord injuries (SCI) have a family doctor and are satisfied with care received.

People with spinal cord injuries tend to be high users of primary care. Many people with SCI receive their primary care from a physiatrist or other specialist.

Lack of SCI-specific knowledge is a significant problem for people with SCI in primary care. There is evidence for inadequate knowledge of important secondary conditions and lack of adherence to clinical guidelines in treating SCI patients.

Physical barriers are also encountered in some primary care practices.

The majority of the issues raised by SCI patients in primary care are disability-related; specifically, they are secondary complications of the spinal cord injury.

There is a high level of consistency in the literature on the most common issues raised by people with spinal cord injuries in primary care.

The most commonly raised issues are bowel, bladder and pain. Also of significant concern are skin care, equipment and medication needs, depression and bone density.

Unmet health needs are a significant problem for people with SCI in primary care, with information needs in particular being poorly met.

There is evidence for the effectiveness of outreach programs for maintaining health among patients with SCI. In particular, web-based and telephone-based technologies show promise in this area.