The effect of litigation status on adjustment to whiplash injury
||The effect of litigation status on
adjustment to whiplash injury.
||Swartzman LC; Teasell RW; Shapiro
AP; McDermid AJ
||Department of Psychology,
University of Western Ontario, Canada.
||Spine 1996 Jan 1;21(1):53-8
||PMID: 9122763 UI: 97063162
||STUDY DESIGN: This retrospective
study examined the effect of civil litigation on reports of pain and
disability in chronic pain patients who sustained whiplash injuries after
a motor vehicle accident. OBJECTIVES: To examine the effect of litigation
on adjustment to chronic pain. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: A common
methodologic weakness with many studies in this area is the composition of
the nonlitigant group, which often includes individuals who have completed
litigation as well as those who opted not to litigate. This introduces a
confound in that litigant and nonlitigant groups differ not only with
respect to litigation status but with respect to any factors that
predispose one to litigate. METHODS: Questionnaire data were obtained from
41 patients (current litigants) in the process of litigation and 21
patients (postlitigants) who had completed litigation. Subjects completed
self-report measures assessing demographic characteristics, psychological
distress, sleep disturbance, employment status, and various pain indices.
RESULTS: There were no significant group differences in demographic
characteristics, employment status, or psychological distress. Litigants,
however, reported more pain than did postlitigants. Group differences in
pain reports remained statistically significant even after controlling for
length of time since accident and initial severity of the injuries.
CONCLUSIONS: That litigation status did not predict employment status
suggests that secondary gain does not figure prominently in influencing
the functionality of these patients. The rather robust effect of
litigation status on pain reports is discussed with respect to the
potential mediational role of the stress of litigation.
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