Reflecting on whiplash associated disorder through a QoL lens: an option to advance practice and research

Disabil Rehabil. 2012;34(13):1131-9. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2011.632467. Epub 2011 Nov 23.


Purpose: To examine the constructs of quality of life (QoL) as applied to whiplash associated disorder (WAD), its current state of measurement and suggestions for future application.

Method: Narrative literature review.

Results: The burden of WAD on the healthcare system is substantive. Assessment of QoL issues for people with WAD may provide a broader understanding of the patient experience. No consistent framework for QoL in WAD has been adopted, nor has preference for any QoL instrument been established. Inconsistent use of terminology for what is being measured, and the measures themselves hamper clarity on the issue. Options for assessing QoL currently include a meaningful condition-specific scale that has not undergone sufficient psychometric evaluation (Whiplash Disability Questionnaire (WDQ), or generic scales with strong psychometric properties that have not undergone sufficient relevancy evaluation (e.g. SF-36, WHOQOL BREF). Generic measures can measure overlapping constructs including heath status, utility, health-related quality of life or generic QoL. The inter-relationships between these in WAD have not been defined.

Conclusions: Given the impact of WAD on QoL, additional clarity on tools and approaches are needed. There is a need for research on the relevance and clinical measurement properties of available condition-specific and generic tools to define a preferred measurement approach in WAD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Narration
  • Psychometrics / instrumentation*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Whiplash Injuries / psychology*