Influenza infection control guidance provided to staff at Veterans Affairs facilities for veterans with spinal cord injury during a pandemic

Sara M. Locatelli, Sherri L. LaVela, Timothy P. Hogan, Barry Goldstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Context/objective: To assess guidance provided to staff at Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare facilities on H1N1 influenza infection control for veterans with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D). Study design: Cross-sectional qualitative semi-structured interviews. Setting: Thirty-three VA healthcare facilities from throughout the United States that provide care to veterans with SCI/D. Participants: Thirty-three infection control key informants, each representing a VA healthcare facility. Interventions: None. Outcome measures: Infection control practices, including vaccination practices, hospital preparedness, and recommendations for future pandemics, both in general and specifically to SCI/D. Results: Most (n = 26, 78.8%) infection control key informants believed veterans with SCI/D were at increased risk for influenza and complications, but only 17 (51.5%) said veterans with SCI/D were treated as a priority group for vaccination at their facilities. There was little special guidance provided for treating veterans with SCI/D, and most (n = 28, 84.8%) informants said that infection control procedures and recommendations were applied universally. Yet, 10 key informants discussed 'unique challenges' to infection control in the SCI/ D population. Informants discussed the potential for infectious agents to be spread through shared and common use equipment and the necessity of including caregivers in any vaccination or educational campaigns. Conclusion: Greater input by experts knowledgeable about SCI /D is recommended to adequately address pandemic influenza within healthcare facilities where individuals with SCI/D receive care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)666-671
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Spinal Cord Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Access to care
  • Human
  • Hygiene
  • Immunization
  • Infection control
  • Influenza
  • Pandemics
  • Paraplegia
  • Patient education
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Tetraplegia
  • Vaccination
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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