Complexities in Understanding the Role of Compensation-Related Factors on Recovery From Whiplash-Associated Disorders: Discussion Paper 2

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Study Design.

Focused discussion.


To present some of the complexities in conducting research on the role of compensation and compensation-related factors in recovery from whiplash-associated disorders (WAD) and to suggest directions for future research.

Summary of Background Data.

There is divergence of opinion, primary research findings, and systematic reviews on the role of compensation and/or compensation-related factors in WAD recovery.


The topic of research of compensation/compensation-related factors was discussed at an international summit meeting of 21 researchers from diverse fields of scientific enquiry. This article summarizes the main points raised in that discussion.


Traffic injury compensation is a complex sociopolitical construct, which varies widely across jurisdictions. This leads to conceptual and methodological challenges in conducting and interpreting research in this area. It is important that researchers and their audiences be clear about what aspect of the compensation system is being addressed, what compensation-related variables are being studied, and what social/economic environment the compensation system exists in. In addition, summit participants also recommended that nontraditional, sophisticated study designs and analysis strategies be employed to clarify the complex causal pathways and mechanisms of effects.


Care must be taken by both researchers and their audiences not to overgeneralize or confuse different aspects of WAD compensation. In considering the role of compensation/compensation-related factors on WAD and WAD recovery, it is important to retain a broad-based conceptualization of the range of biological, psychological, social, and economic factors that combine and interact to define and determine how people recover from WAD.

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