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OBJECTIVES: Pain catastrophizing has been shown to be a prognostic indicator for pain severity and the co-occurrence of mental health conditions such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder after whiplash injury. However, the pattern of available findings is limited in its implications for the possible "antecedent" or "causal" role of pain catastrophizing. The purpose of the present study was to examine the temporal relations between pain catastrophizing, pain severity, depressive symptoms, and post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) in individuals receiving treatment for whiplash injury. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The sample consisted of 388 individuals enrolled in a multidisciplinary program for whiplash injury. Participants completed self-report measures of pain catastrophizing, pain severity, depressive symptoms, and PTSS at the time of admission, mid-treatment (4 week), and treatment completion (7 week). A cross-lagged panel analysis was used to examine the temporal relations between pain catastrophizing, pain severity, depressive symptoms, and PTSS across all 3 timepoints. RESULTS: Model fit was acceptable after the inclusion of modification indices. Pain catastrophizing at the time of admission predicted all other variables at 4 weeks. Pain catastrophizing at 4 weeks also predicted all other variables at 7 weeks. In addition, some bidirectional relations were present, particularly for variables assessed at week 4 and week 7. DISCUSSION: Findings support the view that pain catastrophizing might play a transdiagnostic role in the onset and maintenance of health and mental health conditions. The findings call for greater emphasis on the development of treatment techniques that target pain catastrophizing in intervention programs for whiplash injury.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin J Pain

Publication Date





10 - 17


Humans, Whiplash Injuries, Pain Measurement, Pain, Catastrophization, Outcome Assessment, Health Care