Compensation claim lodgement and health outcome developmental trajectories following whiplash injury: A prospective study
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This study aimed to identify distinctive trajectories for pain/disability and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms following whiplash injury and to examine the effect of injury compensation claim lodgement on the trajectories. In a prospective study, 155 individuals with whiplash were assessed at <1 month, 3, 6 and 12 months post injury. Outcomes at each time point were Neck Disability Index (NDI) and the Posttraumatic Stress Diagnostic Scale (PDS). Group-based trajectory analytical techniques were used to identify outcome profiles. The analyses were then repeated after including third party compensation claim lodgment as a binary time-changing covariate. Three distinct NDI trajectories were determined: (1) Mild: mild or negligible pain/disability for the entire 12 months (45%), (2) Moderate: initial moderate pain/disability that decreased to mild levels by 3 months (39%) and (3) Chronic-severe: severe pain/disability persisting at moderate/severe levels for 12 months (16%). Three distinct PTSD trajectories were also identified: (1) Resilient: mild symptoms throughout (40%), (2) Recovering: initial moderate symptoms declining to mild levels by 3 months (43%) and (3) Chronic moderate-severe: persistent moderate/severe symptoms throughout 12 months (17%). Claim submission had a detrimental effect on all trajectories (p < 0.001) except for the Chronic-severe NDI trajectory (p = 0.098). Following whiplash injury, there are distinct pathways of recovery for pain/ disability and PTSD symptoms. Management of whiplash should consider the detrimental association of compensation claim with psychological recovery and recovery of those with mild to moderate pain/disability levels. However, claim lodgement has no significant association with a more severe pain and disability trajectory.
Clinical Sciences not elsewhere classified