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The Use of Personal Assistance Services by Persons with Spinal Cord Injury: Policy Issues Surrounding Reliance on Family and Paid Providers

Nosek MA, Fuhrer MJ, Rintala DH, Hart KA. The use of personal assistance services by persons with spinal cord injury: Policy issues surrounding reliance on family and paid providers. Journal of Disability Policy Studies 1993;4(1):89-103.


Previous discussions of personal assistance have focused on census data and descriptions of service programs. The current study examines patterns of usage of personal assistance among a community-based sample of 284 persons with spinal cord injury and how these patterns relate to other aspects of their lives. Expected significant relationships were found among variables of who provides assistance, whether they are paid, and with whom participants live, and between the amount of assistance received and severity of disability. Unexpectedly high rates of use of unpaid nonrelatives and paid relatives were found, as was the use of a combination of relatives and nonrelatives and assistants. Use of nonrelatives increased with education level. The effect of usage pattern on productivity could not be examined due to a staggeringly high unemployment rate (89%). Implications of these results for development of a national policy on providing personal assistance services, the expansion of formal service delivery systems, and the further investigation of the use of personal assistance are discussed.

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