Study design: A quasi-experimental design was used to compare the Symptom Checklist 90-Revised profiles (SCL-90-R) from a group of patients with whiplash injuries (n = 67) and a group with mixed musculoskeletal pain (n = 91).
Objectives: To test the discriminant validity of the characteristic SCL-90-R whiplash profile as proposed by Wallis and Bogduk using a multivariate statistical technique.
Summary of background data: On the basis of two studies by themselves and their colleagues, Wallis and Bogduk proposed a characteristic SCL-90-R profile evident in samples of patients with whiplash injuries. Their assertion has not been tested empirically in any published studies.
Methods: The participants in this study consisted of 158 patients at a rehabilitation hospital who completed the SCL-90-R under standard instructions and subsequently were diagnosed by a team comprising a chiropractor, physical therapist, and physician. The participants were categorized as having whiplash-associated disorders or pain caused by other musculoskeletal injuries. A profile analysis following Hotelling's method was used to determine the comparability of SCL-90-R profiles from the two groups.
Results: The profile analysis showed no statistically significant differences between the groups with regard to either the shape or the overall elevation of their psychological profiles. The SCL-90-R profiles from both groups were similar to those reported from other chronic pain syndromes, with elevations on the Somatization, Depression, Obsessive-Compulsive, and Psychoticism scales.
Conclusions: The current study failed to support the validity of a distinctive SCL-90-R profile for patients with whiplash injuries. Instead, the results suggest that the psychological consequences of experiencing chronic pain from whiplash-associated disorders are similar to the psychological consequences of chronic pain from other musculoskeletal injuries.