To assess which psychological factors are important in the development of chronic whiplash symptoms.
Searches were conducted across PubMed, CINAHL, Scopus, and PsychINFO up until March 2017. Studies were included if they investigated psychological prognostic factors in association with recovery from a whiplash injury. Studies also had to be prospective, cohort, follow-up or observational studies, have a 6 month follow-up and published in English. Quality assessments were conducted by 2 independent reviewers. Thirty-one articles were included investigating 34 psychological factors.
Poor expectations of recovery, posttraumatic stress symptoms and passive coping emerged as the most consistent prognostic factors of chronic neck pain and/or disability after a whiplash injury. Anxiety, travel anxiety, depression, personality, precollision distress, general psychological distress, and avoidance behavior were not associated with chronic whiplash problems.