External Validation of a Clinical Prediction Rule to Predict Full Recovery and Ongoing Moderate/Severe Disability Following Acute Whiplash Injury

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Abstract

STUDY DESIGN:

Retrospective secondary analysis of data.

OBJECTIVES:

To investigate the external validity of the whiplash clinical prediction rule (CPR).

BACKGROUND:

We recently derived a whiplash CPR to consolidate previously established prognostic factors for poor recovery from a whiplash injury and predicted 2 recovery pathways. Prognostic factors for full recovery were being less than 35 years of age and having an initial Neck Disability Index (NDI) score of 32% or less. Prognostic factors for ongoing moderate/severe pain and disability were being 35 years of age or older, having an initial NDI score of 40% or more, and the presence of hyperarousal symptoms. Validation is required to confirm the reproducibility and accuracy of this CPR. Clinician feedback on the usefulness of the CPR is also important to gauge acceptability.

METHODS:

A secondary analysis of data from 101 individuals with acute whiplash-associated disorder who had previously participated in either a randomized controlled clinical trial or prospective cohort study was performed using accuracy statistics. Full recovery was defined as NDI score at 6 months of 10% or less, and ongoing moderate/severe pain and disability were defined as an NDI score at 6 months of 30% or greater. In addition, a small sample of physical therapists completed an anonymous survey on the clinical acceptability and usability of the tool.

RESULTS:

The positive predictive value of ongoing moderate/severe pain and disability was 90.9% in the validation cohort, and the positive predictive value of full recovery was 80.0%. Surveyed physical therapists reported that the whiplash CPR was simple, understandable, would be easy to use, and was an acceptable prognostic tool.

CONCLUSION:

External validation of the whiplash CPR confirmed the reproducibility and accuracy of this dual-pathway tool for individuals with acute whiplash-associated disorder. Further research is needed to assess prospective validation, the impact of inclusion on practice, and to examine the efficacy of linking treatment strategies with predicted prognosis.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:

Prognosis, level 1b.

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