Relationship between posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms and the course of whiplash complaints

J Psychosom Res. 2006 Nov;61(5):681-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2006.07.008.


Objective: This study investigates the relationship between posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms (avoidance, reexperiencing, and hyperarousal) and the presence, severity, and duration of neck complaints after motor vehicle accidents.

Methods: Individuals who had been involved in traffic accidents and had initiated compensation claim procedures with a Dutch insurance company were sent questionnaires (Q1) containing complaint-related questions and the Self-Rating Scale for PTSD. Of the 997 questionnaires that were dispatched, 617 (62%) were returned. Only car accident victims were included in this study (n=240). Complaints were monitored using additional questionnaires that were administered 6 months (Q2) and 12 months (Q3) after the accident.

Results: PTSD was related to the presence and severity of concurrent post-whiplash syndrome. More specifically, the intensity of hyperarousal symptoms that were related to PTSD at Q1 was found to have predictive validity for the persistence and severity of post-whiplash syndrome at 6 and 12 months follow-up.

Conclusion: Results are consistent with the idea that PTSD hyperarousal symptoms have a detrimental influence on the recovery and severity of whiplash complaints following car accidents.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / psychology*
  • Adult
  • Arousal
  • Comorbidity
  • Compensation and Redress
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Accident
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Whiplash Injuries / diagnosis
  • Whiplash Injuries / epidemiology
  • Whiplash Injuries / psychology*