Why blame is a factor in recovery from whiplash injury

Med Hypotheses. 2001 Mar;56(3):372-5. doi: 10.1054/mehy.2000.1215.


The biopsychosocial model of chronic whiplash continues to evolve. An aspect of the medicolegal and social dilemma of whiplash that has been largely unresearched is the impression in clinical practice of how seldom drivers who caused the collision present with chronic whiplash symptoms. There are potential biological (injury threshold and mechanism), psychological, and social explanations for this observation, and these flow from the same biopsychosocial model that addresses the progression from acute to chronic pain. This article explores each of these factors as they relate to the disparate experiences of the driver at-fault ('blamed') for the collision, and the not-at-fault driver ('innocent victim'). Recent research lends further support to the hypothesis that a biopsychosocial model best explains this phenomenon.

MeSH terms

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Psychological
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain / psychology
  • Social Responsibility*
  • Whiplash Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Whiplash Injuries / psychology*
  • Whiplash Injuries / rehabilitation