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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PhD)


Center for Psychological Studies

First Advisor

Jeffrey Kibler

Second Advisor

Alan Katell

Third Advisor

Salome Perez


depression, locus of control, quality of life, Spinal cord injury


Within recent literature, internal locus of control (LOC) has been correlated with self-efficacy and improved coping after injury. Service connection (SC) has been linked to well-being after trauma. Level of injury has been associated with physical ability and limitations. This study examines how depression and QOL are associated with LOC and SC for veterans diagnosed with spinal cord injury (SCI). It was hypothesized that internal LOC and SC would correlate with higher QOL and decreased depression. Participants included 58 veterans, 30 diagnosed with paraplegia and 28 with quadriplegia. Measures included a demographics questionnaire, the Rotter's Internal-External Scale of LOC, the Diener's Satisfaction with Life Scale, and the Center for Epidemiological Studies - Depression Scale. Medical records were reviewed for SC. Generalized linear model regressions were run using LOC, SC and level of injury to estimate QOL and depression.

Locus of control was a significant predictor of QOL, F=2.961, p=.045, while SC approached significance at F=2.082, p=.077. Locus of control approached significance as a predictor for depression, F=1.977, p=.083 level. Level of injury was not a significant factor for either outcome variable. Follow-up analyses including time since injury (TSI) indicated that the interaction of LOC and TSI was a significant predictor for QOL, F=5.320, p=0.013, and the interaction of SC and TSI was a significant predictor for depression, F=9.800, p=0.002. A significant correlation was found between depression and QOL, r=-.472, p=.000. A significant correlation was found between LOC and TSI, r=-.277, p=.018. Results indicate that internal LOC, SC, and increased TSI are positively associated with improved QOL and lower depression. The negative correlation between LOC and TSI indicates that LOC may be a mutable personality factor that adjusts from being external to internal to improve coping after disability, or those with an internal LOC are more consistent with treatment over time. The negative correlation between depression and QOL indicates that participants endorsing depression perceive having a lower QOL. These findings have important implications for health psychology, as they indicate that increasing internal LOC and access to health care over time can promote lower depression and higher QOL for SCI patients.

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