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J Spinal Cord Med. 2009;32(3):319-28.

SCIRehab Project series: the psychology taxonomy.

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Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA.



The integration of psychologists as members of the rehabilitation team has occurred in conjunction with the evolution and adoption of interdisciplinary teams as the standard of care in spinal cord injury (SCI) rehabilitation. Although the value of psychological services during rehabilitation is endorsed widely, specific interventions and their association with patient outcomes have not been examined adequately.


To address this shortcoming, psychologists from 6 SCI centers collaborated to develop a psychology intervention taxonomy and documentation framework.


Utilizing an interactive process, the lead psychologists from 6 centers compiled an inclusive list of patient characteristics assessed and interventions delivered in routine psychological practice at the participating rehabilitation facilities. These were systematically grouped, defined, and compared.


The resulting taxonomy became the basis of a documentation framework utilized by psychologists for the study. The psychology taxonomy includes 4 major clinical categories (assessment, psychotherapeutic interventions, psychoeducational interventions, and consultation) with 5 to 10 specific activities in each category.


Examination of psychological interventions and their potential association with positive outcomes for persons who sustain SCI requires the development of a taxonomy. Results of these efforts illustrate similarities and differences in psychological practice among SCI centers and offer the opportunity to blend research and clinical practice in an innovative approach to evidence-based practice improvement. The established taxonomy provides a basic framework for future studies on the effect of psychological interventions.

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