"I've learned to look at things in a different way"

8 July 2021

What is the research about?

In a recent clinical trial, we found that treatment integrating stress inoculation training and exercise improved pain and disability in the short and long term in people with acute whiplash associated disorders (WAD) and at risk of poor recovery.

This study aimed to explore patient perspectives of the integrated intervention.

What did the researchers do?

Twelve patients who participated in the stress inoculation training and exercise arm of the clinical trial participated in semi-structured interviews. The interviews were analysed to identify common themes among patients.

What you need to know

People with acute WAD at risk of poor recovery welcomed the inclusion of psychological strategies as part of physiotherapy treatment.

Health care providers could consider including strategies targeting early stress responses in their management of patients with acute WAD.

What did the researchers find?

The majority of patients found the stress inoculation training techniques to be helpful in managing stress and pain, coping with their injury, and returning to function. The patients also found the exercises useful and acknowledged the importance of both the physical and the psychological aspects of whiplash injury.

How can you use this research?

The results of this research are useful for people with early whiplash injury and for health care providers involved in their care.

Physiotherapists may need some training to deliver the stress inoculation component of the treatment.

About the researchers

 Ms Viviana Silva is a PhD scholar at RECOVER.  Professor Michele Sterling leads the Improving health outcomes after musculoskeletal injury program at RECOVER. Dr Jenny Setchell is a NHMRC Research Fellow in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Science, The University of Queensland. Dr Annick Maujean is a Senior Research Fellow at Griffith University.


Silva Guerrero AV, Setchell J, Maujean A, Sterling M. "I've learned to look at things in a different way": exploring patients' perspectives on participation in physiotherapist delivered integrated stress inoculation training and exercise for acute whiplash. Disabil Rehabil. 2021 Jun 1:1-8. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2021.1931480. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34061695.


Physiotherapy; psychology; randomised controlled trial; stress; whiplash injury.