Predictors of permanent disability among individuals with spinal dysraphism are not well established. In this study, the authors examined potential risk factors for self-reported permanent disability among adults with spinal dysraphism.
A total of 188 consecutive individuals undergoing follow-up in an adult spinal dysraphism clinic completed a standardized National Spina Bifida Patient Registry survey. Chi-square tests and logistic regression were used to assess bivariate relationships, while multivariate logistic regression was used to identify factors independently associated with self-identification as “permanently disabled.”
A total of 106 (56.4%) adults with spina bifida identified themselves as permanently disabled. On multivariate analysis, relative to completion of primary and/or secondary school, completion of technical school (OR 0.01, 95% CI 0–0.40; p = 0.021), some college (OR 0.22, 95% CI 0.08–0.53; p < 0.001), college degree (OR 0.06, 95% CI 0.003–0.66; p = 0.019), and holding an advanced degree (OR 0.12, 95% CI 0.03–0.45; p = 0.002) were negatively associated with permanent disability. Relative to open myelomeningocele, diagnosis of closed spinal dysraphism was also negatively associated with permanent disability (OR 0.20, 95% CI 0.04–0.90; p = 0.036). Additionally, relative to no stool incontinence, stool incontinence occurring at least daily (OR 6.41, 95% CI 1.56–32.90; p = 0.009) or more than weekly (OR 3.43, 95% CI 1.10–11.89; p = 0.033) were both positively associated with permanent disability. There was a suggestion of a dose-response relationship with respect to the influence of educational achievement and frequency of stool incontinence on the likelihood of permanent disability.
The authors’ findings suggest that level of education and degree of stool incontinence are the strongest predictors of permanent disability among adults with spinal dysraphism. These findings will be the basis of efforts to improve community engagement and to improve readiness for transition to adult care in a multidisciplinary pediatric spina bifida clinic.