Psychological Injury and Law

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 6–15 | Cite as

Sources of injustice among individuals with persistent pain following musculoskeletal injury

  • Whitney Scott
  • Amanda McEvoy
  • Rosalind Garland
  • Elena Bernier
  • Maria Milioto
  • Zina Trost
  • Michael SullivanEmail author


Evidence supports the negative impact of perceived injustice on recovery following injury. However, little is known about sources that contribute to injustice perceptions in this context. Therefore, this study systematically investigated sources of injustice following painful musculoskeletal injury. Following completion of the Injustice Experiences Questionnaire (IEQ) and measures of pain, depression, and disability, participants completed a semi-structured interview to discuss reasons underlying their IEQ responses. On average, the sample was experiencing moderate levels of pain, depression, and disability, and clinically meaningful levels of perceived injustice. Participants frequently identified employers/colleagues, other drivers, insurers, healthcare providers, family, significant others, friends, and society as sources of injustice. Common reasons for identifying these sources included their contribution to the injury, inadequate assessment or treatment of pain, and punitive responses toward participants’ pain expression. Sex- and injury-related differences emerged in the identification of injustice sources. Potential strategies for preventing perceived injustice following painful injury are discussed.


Chronic pain Perceived injustice Rehabilitation 



This research was supported by funds from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, le Fonds de la Recherche en Santé du Québec, and l’Institut de Recherche Robert-Sauvé en Santé et en Sécurité du Travail. The authors thank Véronique Boulais and Valérie Mallet for their assistance in data collection.

Conflict of interest

Whitney Scott, Amanda McEvoy, Rosalind Garland, Elena Bernier, Maria Milioto, Zina Trost, and Michael JL Sullivan declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional). Informed consent was obtained from all individual subjects participating in the study.

Animal rights

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Whitney Scott
    • 1
  • Amanda McEvoy
    • 2
  • Rosalind Garland
    • 3
  • Elena Bernier
    • 4
  • Maria Milioto
    • 5
  • Zina Trost
    • 6
  • Michael Sullivan
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and NeuroscienceKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyCarlton UniversityOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Ingram School of NursingMcGill UniversityMontréalCanada
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyMcGill UniversityMontréalCanada
  5. 5.Centre d’ Évaluation et de Réadaptation de l’EstMontréalCanada
  6. 6.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA

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