PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to determine if time to claim closure was similar to time to self-reported recovery in a no fault motor vehicle collision insurance system.
METHOD: A prospective cohort of traffic injured adults with a whiplash-associated disorder (WAD) was assembled. We excluded participants who applied for benefits after 42 days of the collision, who were in hospital for more than two days and participants who were not followed up at least once after their injury. Questionnaires were completed at baseline, six weeks, three-, six-, nine- and 12-months after the collision.
RESULTS: The mean age of the cohort was 39 years and 66% were female. The mean number of days until claim closure and for self-reported recovery was 291days and 134 days, respectively. We found those who had their claim closed at each follow-up period had lower levels of disability and were more likely to report they were recovered than participants with open claims.
CONCLUSION: We conclude that time to claim closure could be used as an outcome measure in traffic collision; however, this measure should be used with caution since it over-estimates the true time to recovery. Implications for Rehabilitation Time to claim closure as an outcome measure for whiplash-associated disorders has been criticized in the literature because it is thought that closure is not reflective of the health status of the individual. We found that claim closure was associated with lower levels of disability, but the time to claim closure was significantly longer than the time to self-reported recovery. Time to claim closure may be used with caution as a "proxy" measure of recovery from an injury; however, it must be noted that it over-estimates the true time of recovery.