Whiplash trauma: epidemiology, long-term sick leave and its' costs
(English)Article in journal (Other academic) Submitted
Neck injuries following whiplash trauma are common and primarily caused by traffic incidents but are also caused by fall incidents and sporting mishaps. The economic consequences to society for the consequent sick leave are significant. Original studies covering all types of cervical spine injuries (WAD-grade 1-4) following whiplash trauma and the following sick leave are rare. The aim of this study was to describe the epidemiology of neck injuries caused by whiplash trauma and the resulting long-term sick leave of patients in a well-defined area who sought medical attention within a one-year period and with a five-year follow-up. Possible risk factors for sick leave and the cost of loss of productivity were also studied.
Materials and Methods
From the ongoing injury registration of Umeå University Hospital, the only hospital in the area, we extracted the year 2001’s data set of neck injuries (acute WAD 1-4). Those injured by whiplash trauma were included. The Swedish Social Insurance Agency provided five-year post-injury data on sick leave because of the injury in question. This is a compulsory register of all Swedes. Epidemiological aspects were described and follow-up data were analysed to find risk factors for long-term sick leave.
The incidence was 383/100,000/year for all ages. In 14% of 18-64 year olds, sick leave was granted for more than two weeks and the median number of sick days in this group was 298. Older age, having a WAD-grade of 1, being injured in traffic crashes and being injured at velocity exceeding 50 km/h were significant risk factors for being granted sick leave. A few (6%) had more serious cervical spine injuries (WAD 4). However, their average time on sick leave was not significantly longer than the sick leave of those with WAD 1-3. The cost to society for loss of productivity was estimated at 5.6 million USD during the 5-year follow-up.
Whiplash injuries affect many people including the young. The long-term periods of sick leave described in this paper indicate individual suffering as well as a societal economic burden. Finding preventive measures is of most importance.
Neck injury, Whiplash injury, Sick leave, Epidemiology, Cost of illness
Research subject Epidemiology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-61419OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-61419DiVA: diva2:567566