Maintaining a balance: A focus group study on living and coping with chronic whiplash-associated disorder


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BioMed Central

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Background: There is little qualitative insight into how persons with chronic Whiplash-Associated Disorder cope on a day to day basis. This study seeks to identify the symptoms persons with Whiplash-Associated Disorder describe as dominating and explore their self-initiated coping strategies. Methods: Qualitative study using focus groups interviews. Fourteen Norwegian men and women with Whiplash- Associated Disorder (I or II) were recruited to participate in two focus groups. Data were analyzed according to a phenomenological approach, and discussed within the model of Cognitive Activation Theory of Stress (CATS). Results: Participants reported neck and head pain, sensory hypersensitivity, and cognitive dysfunction following their whiplash injury. Based on the intensity of symptoms, participants divided everyday life into good and bad periods. In good periods the symptoms were perceived as manageable. In bad periods the symptoms intensified and took control of the individual. Participants expressed a constant notion of trying to balance their three main coping strategies; rest, exercise, and social withdrawal. In good periods participants experienced coping by expecting good results from the strategies they used. In bad periods they experienced no or negative relationships between their behavioral strategies and their complaints. Conclusions: Neck and head pain, sensory hypersensitivity, and cognitive dysfunction were reported as participants' main complaints. A constant



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