The fear-avoidance model in whiplash injuries

Eur J Pain. 2009 May;13(5):518-23. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpain.2008.06.005. Epub 2008 Jul 21.


The aim of this work was to study whether fear of movement, and pain catastrophizing predict pain related-disability and depression in sub-acute whiplash patients. Moreover, we wanted to test if fear of movement is a mediator in the relation between catastrophizing and pain-related disability/depression as has been suggested by the fear-avoidance model [Vlaeyen JWS, Kole-Snijders AMJ, Boeren RGB, van Eek H. Fear of movement/(re)injury in chronic low back pain and its relation to behavioral performance. Pain 1995;62:363-72]. The convenience sample used was of 147 sub-acute whiplash patients (pain duration less than 3 months). Two stepwise regression analyses were performed using fear of movement and catastrophizing as the independent variables, and disability and depression as the dependent variables. After controlling for descriptive variables and pain characteristics, catastrophizing and fear of movement were found to be predictors of disability and depression. Pain intensity was a predictor of disability but not of depression. The mediation effect of fear of movement in the relationships between catastrophizing and disability, and between catastrophizing and depression was also supported. The results of this study are in accordance with the fear-avoidance model, and support a biopsychosocial perspective for whiplash disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease / psychology
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders / etiology
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder / etiology
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Fear / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Movement
  • Neck Pain / etiology
  • Neck Pain / psychology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Pain Measurement
  • Personality Disorders / etiology
  • Personality Disorders / psychology*
  • Psychology
  • Whiplash Injuries / complications
  • Whiplash Injuries / psychology*
  • Young Adult