Occupant- and crash-related factors associated with the risk of whiplash injury

Ann Epidemiol. 2003 Jan;13(1):66-72. doi: 10.1016/s1047-2797(02)00252-1.


Purpose: Given that a motor vehicle crash (MVC) had occurred, to evaluate whether occupant- and crash-related factors, such as age, gender, seating position and type of MVC are associated with the risk of whiplash injury.

Methods: A study of occupants in cars covered by motor insurance at one of the largest insurance companies in Sweden, was undertaken during a one-year period. The study population comprised all occupants in cars exposed to an MVC in which at least one occupant was injured (n = 7120). Adjusted estimates of the relative risk of whiplash injury, associated with the different factors, were calculated by means of binomial regression analysis.

Results: Considering different MVCs, rear-end collisions were associated with the highest relative risk of whiplash injury when compared with side impacts (1.82; 95% CI 1.68-1.96), while drivers showed the strongest association with respect to seating position when compared with passengers in the rear seat (1.78; 95% CI 1.60-1.97). Females had a somewhat higher relative risk of whiplash injury than males (1.20; 95% CI 1.16-1.25). Regarding age, the relative risk was moderately increased across the different age groups when compared with the oldest age group. No interaction was observed on the additive scale.

Conclusions: Given that an MVC had occurred, subjects exposed to a rear-end collision and drivers had a substantial increased risk of whiplash injury, while age and gender were of minor importance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Whiplash Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Whiplash Injuries / etiology