A randomized controlled trial of an educational intervention to prevent the chronic pain of whiplash associated disorders following rear-end motor vehicle collisions

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2005 Aug 15;30(16):1799-807. doi: 10.1097/01.brs.0000174115.58954.17.


Study design: Concealed allocation, multicenter, single-blind, randomized controlled clinical trial.

Objective: To assess the efficacy of an educational video in the tertiary prevention of persistent WAD symptoms following rear-end motor vehicle collisions (MVCs).

Summary of background data: Whiplash-associated disorders (WAD) are an important and costly health problem. There is a lack of high quality evidence surrounding efficacy of treatments for WAD. Existing research supports active interventions and early return to regular activities.

Methods: Consecutive patients presenting to four tertiary care emergency departments following rear-end MVCs were eligible. Following informed consent, patients were allocated, using central randomization, to receive an educational video plus usual care or usual care alone. The video provided reassurance, and advice about posture, return to regular activities, exercises, and pain-relief methods. Data were collected by telephone using standardized questionnaires. The primary outcome was presence of Persistent WAD Symptoms at 24 weeks postinjury, based on the frequency and severity of neck, shoulder, or upper back pain. The absolute difference in proportion of patients with persistent WAD symptoms and rate ratios were calculated. Changes in pain scores were compared using the Mann-Whitney U test.

Results: The intervention (n = 206) and control (n = 199) groups were similar at baseline (mean age 38.4 years; 64% female). Overall, the proportion of subjects with Persistent WAD Symptoms decreased from 89.1% at baseline to 33.6% at 24 weeks after injury. At 24 weeks, the proportion of subjects with persistent WAD symptoms in the intervention group was 7.9% (95% CI, -2.0, 17.8) lower than the control group. The median improvement in pain score at 24 weeks was 3 for the intervention group and 2 for the control group (P = 0.016).

Conclusion: The presence of persistent WAD symptoms following simple rear-end MVCs was high in this sample. The video group demonstrated a trend toward less severe WAD symptoms. We recommend evaluating other educational interventions that could reduce WAD symptoms.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Back Pain / etiology
  • Back Pain / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neck Pain / etiology
  • Neck Pain / physiopathology*
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Shoulder Pain / etiology
  • Shoulder Pain / physiopathology*
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Telephone
  • Time Factors
  • Videotape Recording
  • Whiplash Injuries / complications*