Background: High levels of continuous neck pain after a motor vehicle accident (MVA) are reported in cross-sectional studies. Knowledge of this association in general practice is limited. Aim: To compare the differences in perceived pain and disability in patients with acute neck pain due to an MVA versus other self-reported causes. The secondary aim was to identify prognostic factors for continuous neck pain. Design of study: Prospective cohort study with 1-year follow-up. Setting: General practices in Rotterdam and its suburban region. Method: Patients with non-specific acute neck pain were invited to participate. Questionnaires were collected at baseline and after 6,12, 26, and 52 weeks. The numerical pain-rating scale (NRS) and the neck disability index (NDI) were measured. Regression analysis was used to identify prognostic factors for continuous neck pain. Results: A total of 187 patients were included. The MVA subgroup (n = 42) was significantly younger (P = 0.007), reported more sick leave (P = 0.037), higher levels of headache (P<0.001) and higher NDI scores at baseline (P = 0.018) but lower scores for previous neck pain (P = 0.015) compared to the remaining cohort. At follow-up the MVA subgroup had higher scores for continuous neck pain (63% versus 40%) and at the NDI (11.0 versus 7.1). After multivariate analysis 'pain in the upper part of the neck' (odds ratio [OR] = 1.6), 'duration of complaints at baseline longer than 2 weeks' (OR = 5.3), and an 'MVA' (OR = 5.3) were significantly correlated with outcome. Conclusion: Individuals exposed to MVAs constitute a relevant subgroup of patients with neck pain. An MVA and a longer duration of complaints are prognostic factors for continuous neck pain.

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Keywords Accidents, Acute Disease, Adult, Aged, Chronic Disease, Disability, Disabled Persons, Epidemiologic Methods, Family Practice, Female, General practice, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Motor vehicle accidents, Neck Injuries, Neck Pain, Neck pain, Netherlands, Prevalence, Prognosis, Prognostic factors, Questionnaires, Severity of Illness Index, Sick Leave, Time Factors, Traffic, adult, article, controlled study, disability, female, follow up, general practice, headache, human, major clinical study, male, medical leave, neck pain, pain assessment, prognosis, prospective study, questionnaire, rating scale, regression analysis, scoring system, self report, suburban area, traffic accident
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Journal British Journal of General Practice
Vos, C.J, Verhagen, A.P, Passchier, J, & Koes, B.W. (2008). Impact of motor vehicle accidents on neck pain and disability in general practice. British Journal of General Practice, 58(554), 624–629. doi:10.3399/bjgp08X330762