A descriptive analysis of disorders in patients 17 years following motor vehicle accidents
Whiplash-associated disorders (WAD) are described and analysed 17 years after involvement in a motor vehicle accident. A self-report questionnaire was mailed to 121 patients registered at emergency departments in Gothenburg in 1983 because of neck complaints following a car collision. The questionnaire contained items on symptoms referred to WAD, treatment, work disability, involvement in settlement of claims, medical disability and the Neck Disability Index (NDI). Of the 121 patients, 108 (89%) chose to participate in the present study. Fifty-nine (55%) had residual disorders referable to the original accident. Neck pain, radiating pain and headache were the most common symptoms. One-third of the patients with residual symptoms suffered from work disability, compared to 6% in the group of patients without residual disorders. All 25 patients who had reached a final claim settlement (42%) had a poor outcome, and 15 of the claiming patients had been assigned a medical disability ranging from 5 to 30%. Patients with WAD reported a significantly higher score on the NDI than those without residual disorders. There was no significant correlation between the patients' degree of medical disability and the scores on the NDI. The results of the study show that approximately half of the patients with neck complaints following motor vehicle accidents in Gothenburg in 1983 suffered frequent residual symptoms 17 years after the accident, mostly comprising neck pain, radiating pain, and headache. The residual disorders contributed to the patients' overall disability.