The promotion of personal injury claims is commonly featured in written advice given to whiplash patients, according to a UK study.
The giving of such advice may alter patient behaviour so that they in effect pretend to have a worse injury than they actually have, suggest the authors.
Warwick University researchers surveyed 316 A&E consultants across the UK and found that 61% of written advice given to whiplash patients contained information on solicitors or how to pursue a personal injury claim.
The authors said: “The highly visible presence of solicitors and the ability to pursue personal injury claims in the written materials raises the question of whether litigation may facilitate inappropriate illness behaviour in this [patient] population.”
“The evidence is uncertain at present and certainly requires further carefully conducted investigation,” they said in the Emergency Medicine Journal.
Overall the researchers found that in most cases of whiplash patients were given verbal advice to exercise, and advised against using a collar.
The authors said: “Verbal advice is the primary method for managing whiplash injuries in emergency departments and is usually supplemented by written advice.”