Validity of self-reported history in patients with acute back or neck pain after motor vehicle accidents

Stanford University School of Medicine, 800 Pasteur Drive, #R171, Stanford, California 94305, USA.
The Spine Journal (Impact Factor: 2.43). 03/2008; 8(2):311-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.spinee.2007.04.008
Source: PubMed


Determining the presence of comorbid conditions in patients with persistent axial pain after motor vehicle accident (MVA) is important to direct appropriate care and as a public health measure against future traffic injuries. In the clinical care of patients after MVA, they are usually asked about previous axial pain problems and relevant comorbid conditions (psychological distress and drug and alcohol abuse). The accuracy of self-reported previous axial pain history and comorbid conditions after MVA has not been systematically evaluated but has been assumed to be high.
To establish the validity of certain elements of the self-reported history in patients with back or neck pain attributed to an MVA.
A validation study of crucial elements of the patient history obtained after MVA using internal (chart audit) and external (age- and sex-matched population data) as gold standard references.
Medium-sized (n>400) clinical cohort of patients without fracture or dislocation seen within 3 months after an MVA in a university spine clinic.
Responses to standardized questionnaires included previous back or neck pain, previous psychological distress, previous illicit drug usage, previous alcohol abuse, other chronic pain conditions, perceived fault of the MVA, and whether a compensation claim has been filed.
A consecutive cohort of patients seen from 1998 to 2004 for evaluation of back or neck/shoulder pain reportedly caused by an MVA was enrolled. All clinic patients completed standardized questionnaires. The prevalence of self-reported pre-MVA axial pain and at-risk conditions (drug, alcohol, and psychological problems) and control conditions (hypertension and diabetes) were compared against the age- and sex-matched prevalence determined by the 2005 US Department of Health and Human Services National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (external gold standard). Randomly selected previous medical records were also audited (internal gold standard) and compared with post-MVA description of preaccident health.
Four hundred twenty-two subjects were enrolled, and random audits of 100 subjects were completed. In 68% of the random audits, comorbid conditions denied in the postaccident history (previous axial pain, drug or alcohol abuse, and psychological diagnoses) were documented. In subjects perceiving the MVA to be another's fault (but not their own), the reported prevalence of previous axial pain was markedly below matched data for population prevalence and audited data. Similar findings were observed for psychological problems, illicit drug use, and alcohol abuse. In subjects pursuing compensation claims and retaining an attorney, 80% had significant past axial pain history or serious comorbidities in their records not disclosed in the spine clinic evaluation. In subjects reporting that the MVA was either one's "own fault" or "no one's fault," this effect was seen but was smaller in all dimensions.
In patients being seen for continued pain related to an MVA, the validity of self-reported previous axial pain and comorbid conditions appeared poor. The self-reported prevalence of previous axial pain and drug, alcohol, and psychological problems is much less than the documented prevalence in prior medical records. These rates were also markedly below the expected prevalence in age- and sex-matched populations. This effect was seen most prominently in patients perceiving the accident to be another party's fault and in those filing compensation claims. The failure to appreciate previous axial pain problems and drug, alcohol, and psychological problems may compromise patient care and public health opportunities.

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    • "physical activity, smoking and alcohol consumption were not collected with the baseline questionnaire. Moreover, self-reported measures of pain and other comorbidities prior to collision tend to be under reported by patients with post-collision neck pain, something that maybe affected our predictive model [41]. We used the data collected in the baseline questionnaire as a proxy for medical history collected by a physical therapist. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Patients with whiplash-associated disorders (WAD) have a generally favourable prognosis, yet some develop longstanding pain and disability. Predicting who will recover from WAD shortly after a traffic collision is very challenging for health care providers such as physical therapists. Therefore, we aimed to develop a prediction model for the recovery of WAD in a cohort of patients who consulted physical therapists within six weeks after the injury. Methods Our cohort included 680 adult patients with WAD who were injured in Saskatchewan, Canada, between 1997 and 1999. All patients had consulted a physical therapist as a result of the injury. Baseline prognostic factors were collected from an injury questionnaire administered by Saskatchewan Government Insurance. The outcome, global self-perceived recovery, was assessed by telephone interviews six weeks, three and six months later. Twenty-five possible baseline prognostic factors were considered in the analyses. A prediction model was built using Cox regression. The predictive ability of the model was estimated with concordance statistics (c-index). Internal validity was checked using bootstrapping. Results Our final prediction model included: age, number of days to reporting the collision, neck pain intensity, low back pain intensity, pain other than neck and back pain, headache before collision and recovery expectations. The model had an acceptable level of predictive ability with a c-index of 0.68 (95% CI: 0.65, 0.71). Internal validation showed that our model was robust and had a good fit. Conclusions We developed a model predicting recovery from WAD, in a cohort of patients who consulted physical therapists. Our model has adequate predictive ability. However, to be fully incorporated in clinical practice the model needs to be validated in other populations and tested in clinical settings.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2012 · BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
    • "The importance of attribution of pre-existing symptoms to the trauma has been emphasized in previous studies [35,71]. In line with this, a tendency to underestimate experienced symptoms such as back pain, neck pain and psychological distress experienced before the accident [72] has been found. "
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    ABSTRACT: Chronic whiplash leads to considerable patient suffering and substantial societal costs. There are two competing hypothesis on the etiology of chronic whiplash. The traditional organic hypothesis considers chronic whiplash and related symptoms a result of a specific injury. In opposition is the hypothesis that chronic whiplash is a functional somatic syndrome, and related symptoms a result of society-induced expectations and amplification of symptoms. According to both hypotheses, patients reporting chronic whiplash are expected to have more neck pain, headache and symptoms of anxiety and depression than the general population. Increased prevalence of somatic symptoms beyond those directly related to a whiplash neck injury is less investigated. The aim of this study was to test an implication derived from the functional hypothesis: Is the prevalence of somatic symptoms as seen in somatization disorder, beyond symptoms related to a whiplash neck injury, increased in individuals self-reporting chronic whiplash? We further aimed to explore recall bias by comparing the symptom profile displayed by individuals self-reporting chronic whiplash to that among those self-reporting a non-functional injury: fractures of the hand or wrist. We explored symptom load, etiologic origin could not be investigated in this study. Data from the Norwegian population-based "Hordaland Health Study" (HUSK, 1997-99); N = 13,986 was employed. Chronic whiplash was self-reported by 403 individuals and fractures by 1,746. Somatization tendency was measured using a list of 17 somatic symptoms arising from different body parts and organ systems, derived from the research criteria for somatization disorder (ICD-10, F45). Chronic whiplash was associated with an increased level of all 17 somatic symptoms investigated (p<0.05). The association was moderately strong (group difference of 0.60 standard deviation), only partly accounted for by confounding. For self-reported fractures symptoms were only slightly elevated. Recent whiplash was more commonly reported than whiplash-injury a long time ago, and the association of interest weakly increased with time since whiplash (r = 0.016, p = 0.032). The increased prevalence of somatic symptoms beyond symptoms expected according to the organic injury model for chronic whiplash, challenges the standard injury model for whiplash, and is indicative evidence of chronic whiplash being a functional somatic syndrome.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2012 · BMC Psychiatry
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    ABSTRACT: Lumbar facet joint pain is diagnosed by controlled diagnostic blocks. The accuracy of controlled diagnostic blocks has been demonstrated in multiple studies and confirmed in systematic reviews. Controlled diagnostic studies have shown an overall prevalence of lumbar facet joint pain in 31% of the patients with chronic low back pain without disc displacement or radiculitis, with an overall false-positive rate of 30% using a single diagnostic block. An observational report of outcomes assessment. An interventional pain management practice setting in the United States. To determine the accuracy of controlled diagnostic blocks in managing lumbar facet joint pain at the end of 2 years. This study included 152 patients diagnosed with lumbar facet joint pain using controlled diagnostic blocks. The inclusion criteria was based on a positive response to diagnostic controlled comparative local anesthetic lumbar facet joint blocks. The treatment included therapeutic lumbar facet joint nerve blocks. The sustained diagnosis of lumbar facet joint pain at the end of one year and 2 years based on pain relief and functional status improvement. At the end of one year 93% of the patients and at the end of 2 years 89.5% of the patients were considered to have lumbar facet joint pain. The study is limited by its observational nature. Controlled diagnostic lumbar facet joint nerve blocks are valid utilizing the criteria of 80% pain relief and the ability to perform previously painful movements, with sustained diagnosis of lumbar facet joint pain in at least 89.5% of the patients at the end of a 2-year follow-up period.
    Preview · Article · Nov 2008 · Pain physician
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