Study design: Best evidence synthesis.
Objective: To undertake a best evidence synthesis on the burden and determinants of whiplash-associated disorders (WAD) after traffic collisions.
Summary of background data: Previous best evidence synthesis on WAD has noted a lack of evidence regarding incidence of and risk factors for WAD. Therefore there was a warrant of a reanalyze of this body of research.
Methods: A systematic search of Medline was conducted. The reviewers looked for studies on neck pain and its associated disorders published 1980-2006. Each relevant study was independently and critically reviewed by rotating pairs of reviewers. Data from studies judged to have acceptable internal validity (scientifically admissible) were abstracted into evidence tables, and provide the body of the best evidence synthesis.
Results: The authors found 32 scientifically admissible studies related to the burden and determinants of WAD. In the Western world, visits to emergency rooms due to WAD have increased over the past 30 years. The annual cumulative incidence of WAD differed substantially between countries. They found that occupant seat position and collision impact direction were associated with WAD in one study. Eliminating insurance payments for pain and suffering were associated with a lower incidence of WAD injury claims in one study. Younger ages and being a female were both associated with filing claims or seeking care for WAD, although the evidence is not consistent. Preliminary evidence suggested that headrests/car seats, aimed to limiting head extension during rear-end collisions had a preventive effect on reporting WAD, especially in females.
Conclusion: WAD after traffic collisions affects many people. Despite many years of research, the evidence regarding risk factors for WAD is sparse but seems to include personal, societal, and environmental factors. More research including, well-defined studies with accurate denominators for calculating risk, and better consideration of confounding factors, are needed.