Background: The effect of expectation of recovery on the recovery rate of whiplash patients in the primary care setting is not known.
Methods: Whiplash patients were assessed in a primary care setting within 1 week of their collision for their expectations of recovery and were re-examined 3 months later for recovery.
Results: Initial expectations of recovery predicted recovery. According to adjusted odds ratios, subjects who expected 'to get better slowly' had a recovery rate that was nearly 1.9 times that of subjects with poor recovery expectations. Subjects who expected 'to get better soon' had a recovery rate that was 2.6 times greater than either of those with poor recovery expectations.
Discussion: In the primary care setting, asking patients with whiplash about their expectations of recovery is a useful predictor of their outcome.