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Glendale Adventist Medical Center
1500 E. Chevy Chase Drive, Suite 401B
Glendale, CA 91206
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Studies Lacking in Understanding of Late Whiplash Syndrome

Posted on: 03/24/2008
When it comes to finding out what causes late whiplash syndrome (LWS), researchers have come up empty handed. A group of social scientists reviewed all the studies they could find on LWS. They were looking for psychologic risk factors that might predict who develops this condition.

Of the 25 articles already published, 14 were rated as low quality. There
was poor consistency from one article to another. It wasn't possible to combine the data together for a better analysis. Most of what was reported was inconclusive.

Of the 21 possible psychologic risk factors, there was some (limited) evidence pointing to two potential factors. These included low self-efficacy (belief you can do something) and post-traumatic distress. Both were mildly predictive of chronic painful symptoms months after a whiplash injury.

Personality traits, stress unrelated to the injury, cognitive function, and stress in response to the injury did not appear to be linked with LWS. Previous history of neck pain may influence perception of pain. And older age may affect the ability to recover from neck pain.

The authors suggest better quality research is needed in this area. Finding prognostic factors could help screen for patients at risk for LWS. If the risk factors can be changed or modified in any way, prevention programs might reduce the number of LWS cases.

Esther Williamson, et al. A Systematic Literature Review of Psychological Factors and the Development of Late Whiplash Syndrome. In Pain. Vol. 135. No. 1-2. Pp. 20-30.

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