Is a lifetime history of neck injury in a traffic collision associated with prevalent neck pain, headache and depressive symptomatology

Publication type
Journal article
Cote P, Cassidy JD, Carroll LJ
Date published
2000 Mar 01
Accident Analysis and Prevention
Open Access?

The objective of this study is to determine whether independent associations exist between a history of neck injury related to a motor vehicle collision and: (1) graded neck pain in the past 6 months; (2) headaches in the past 6 months and; (3) depressive symptomatology during the past week. We used data from the Saskatchewan Health and Back Pain Survey, a population-based cross-sectional survey mailed to a stratified random sample of 2184 Saskatchewan adults aged 20-69 years. Fifty-five percent of the eligible population participated. The exposure was collected by asking subjects whether they had ever injured their neck in a motor vehicle collision. The outcomes: 6-month prevalence of graded neck pain, 6-month prevalence headache and depressive symptomatology during the past week were measured with valid and reliable questionnaires. Sixteen percent of the study sample reported a lifetime history of neck injury in a traffic collision. The association between neck injury and the outcomes was determined from polytomous and binary multivariate logistic regression with adjustment for age, gender and other covariates. A history of neck injury was positively associated with low intensity/low disability neck pain (OR = 2.81; 95% CI 1.81-4.37), positively associated with high intensity/low disability neck pain (OR = 4.46; 95% CI 2.49-4.99) and with disabling neck pain (OR = 3.30; 95% CI 1.48-7.39). Similarly, we found a positive association between a history of neck injury in a motor vehicle collision and headaches that moderately/severely impact on one's health (OR = 2.09; 95% CI 1.27-3.44). No association was found between neck injury and depressive symptomatology (OR = 0.84; 95% CI 0.50-1.40). Our cross-sectional analysis suggests that neck pain and severe headaches are more prevalent in individuals with a history of neck injury from a car collision. However, the results should not be used to infer a causal relationship between whiplash and chronic neck pain and headaches