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J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2011 Oct;34(8):506-13. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2011.08.011.

The relationship between self-rated disability, fear-avoidance beliefs, and nonorganic signs in patients with chronic whiplash-associated disorder.

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  • 1Division of Research, Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, Toronto, ON, Canada.



The purpose of this study was to determine the role of standard and novel (cervical) nonorganic signs in patients with chronic whiplash-associated disorder (WAD).


Chronic WAD I to III patients (>3 months) were recruited from private chiropractic practice in Canada. Subjects completed a Neck Disability Index (NDI), Tampa Scale for Kinesiophobia (TSK), pain visual analog scale, and pain diagram. Clinical and demographic data were also obtained. Nine standard nonorganic pain behavior tests and 4 novel cervical nonorganic simulation signs (C-NOSS) tests were applied. Bivariate correlations were obtained with the Pearson correlation coefficient. Items achieving statistical significance on univariate analysis were loaded in a sequential linear regression analysis. Post hoc analyses were conducted with analysis of variance tests of NDI and TSK scores.


Ninety-one subjects were investigated (49 males and 42 females), with a mean age of 41.7 (SD, 14.7) years and a mean duration of 9.4 (SD, 11.2) months. Because mean NDI scores were 57.5 (SD, 17.8) and mean pain scores were 68.3 (SD, 21.0), this sample represents moderate-to-severe WAD. Fair to moderately strong correlations were obtained between the NDI and the TSK, pain visual analog scale and nonorganic symptoms and signs (NOS-9) and C-NOSS scores, but not with "age," "sex," or "duration." The NOS-9 and C-NOSS scores correlated most strongly at 0.70. A multivariate model accounting for 53% of the variance of the NDI scores (P < .001) was obtained with the TSK, pain severity, and NOS-9 scores. There was no significant correlation between C-NOSS and TSK scores. At least 25% of subjects scored either 5 of 9 or 2 of 4 on the NOS-9 and C-NOSS tests, respectively.


Based on the findings of this study, nonorganic signs should be considered in the interpretation of self-rated disability in patients with moderate-to-severe chronic WAD.

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