Compensation claim lodgement and health outcome developmental trajectories following whiplash injury: A prospective study

Pain. 2010 Jul;150(1):22-28. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2010.02.013. Epub 2010 Mar 21.


This study aimed to identify distinctive trajectories for pain/disability and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms following whiplash injury and to examine the effect of injury compensation claim lodgement on the trajectories. In a prospective study, 155 individuals with whiplash were assessed at <1month, 3, 6 and 12months post injury. Outcomes at each time point were Neck Disability Index (NDI) and the Posttraumatic Stress Diagnostic Scale (PDS). Group-based trajectory analytical techniques were used to identify outcome profiles. The analyses were then repeated after including third party compensation claim lodgment as a binary time-changing covariate. Three distinct NDI trajectories were determined: (1) Mild: mild or negligible pain/disability for the entire 12 months (45%), (2) Moderate: initial moderate pain/disability that decreased to mild levels by 3 months (39%) and (3) Chronic-severe: severe pain/disability persisting at moderate/severe levels for 12 months (16%). Three distinct PTSD trajectories were also identified: (1) Resilient: mild symptoms throughout (40%), (2) Recovering: initial moderate symptoms declining to mild levels by 3months (43%) and (3) Chronic moderate-severe: persistent moderate/severe symptoms throughout 12 months (17%). Claim submission had a detrimental effect on all trajectories (p<0.001) except for the Chronic-severe NDI trajectory (p=0.098). Following whiplash injury, there are distinct pathways of recovery for pain/ disability and PTSD symptoms. Management of whiplash should consider the detrimental association of compensation claim with psychological recovery and recovery of those with mild to moderate pain/disability levels. However, claim lodgement has no significant association with a more severe pain and disability trajectory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Compensation and Redress*
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement / psychology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recovery of Function
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / economics
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Whiplash Injuries / economics*
  • Whiplash Injuries / psychology*