Are there gender differences in coping with neck pain following acute whiplash trauma? A 12-month follow-up study

Eur J Pain. 2012 Jan;16(1):49-60. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpain.2011.06.002.


Background: Little is known about gender differences in coping after whiplash, and to date possible interaction of gender and coping on recovery has not been investigated.

Aims: To examine if gender differences in coping are associated with long-lasting neck pain after acute whiplash. Seven hundred and forty participants referred from emergency departments or general practitioners after car accidents in Denmark. Within a median of five days, post-collision participants completed questionnaires on collision characteristics, psychological distress, and socio-demographics. After 3 months they completed the Coping Strategies Questionnaire, and after 12 months a VAS scale on neck pain intensity.

Results: The odds for long-lasting neck pain were more than twice as high for women than for men (OR = 2.17 (95% CI: 1.40; 3.37). However, no gender difference in coping and no interaction between gender and the five coping subscales on neck pain after 12 months were found. 'Distraction' increased the odds for considerable neck pain for both men and women (OR = 1.03 (95% CI: 1.01; 1.05), 'reinterpreting' (OR = 1.03 (95% CI: 1.01; 1.06), 'catastrophizing' (OR = 1.14 (95% CI: 1.10; 1.18), and 'praying and hoping' (OR = 1.10 (95% CI: 1.05; 1.13) for each point on these scales.

Conclusions: No interaction between coping and gender on neck pain was found, thus different coping strategies 3 months post-collision did not explain the different prognosis observed in men and women. Clinically relevant influence of 'catastrophizing' and 'praying and hoping' to prognosis was found, therefore we should identify patients predominantly using these strategies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic
  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Catastrophization / psychology
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical
  • Neck Pain / etiology
  • Neck Pain / psychology*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Whiplash Injuries / complications
  • Whiplash Injuries / psychology*
  • Young Adult