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Does physical trauma lead to an increase in the risk of new onset widespread pain?
  1. G Wynne-Jones1,
  2. G J Macfarlane2,
  3. A J Silman1,
  4. G T Jones2
  1. 1Arthritis Research Campaign, Epidemiology Unit, Division of Epidemiology and Health Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  2. 2Epidemiology Group, Department of Public Health, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr Gareth T Jones
    Epidemiology Group, Department of Public Health, University of Aberdeen, Polwarth Building, Foresterhill, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD, UK; gareth.jones{at}abdn.ac.uk

Abstract

Objective: To determine the rate of new onset of widespread pain after a traumatic event (motor vehicle crash).

Methods: A prospective cohort study of persons registered with an insurance company who had or had not experienced a motor vehicle crash. All participants were sent a questionnaire to assess pre-crash (or for the non-crash group, prior) psychosocial factors and widespread pain. Participants reporting pre-crash (prior) widespread pain were excluded. At six months, participants were sent a follow up questionnaire to ascertain new prevalent widespread pain.

Results: 597 (51%) of participants returned a baseline questionnaire (465 crash and 132 non-crash). Among the cohort who had experienced a crash, the new onset rate of widespread pain six months later was low (8%), though in comparison with the non-crash group there was an increased risk (RR = 1.9 (95% CI, 0.8 to 4.8, adjusted for age and sex)); this was attenuated after adjustment for pre-crash (prior) psychological distress and somatic symptoms (RR = 1.4 (95% CI, 0.5 to 3.2)).

Conclusions: The findings suggest that a motor vehicle crash (as an example of a physically traumatic event) is unlikely to have a major impact on the new onset of widespread pain. Any observed relation may, in part, be explained by psychological distress.

  • GHQ, General Health Questionnaire
  • SF-8, Health Status Short-Form 8
  • SSC, Somatic Symptoms Checklist
  • WP, widespread pain
  • fibromyalgia
  • pain
  • trauma

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Footnotes

  • Published Online First 13 July 2005

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