There is a lack of knowledge regarding how individuals with acute whiplash-associated disorders (WAD) appraise and cope with situation-specific stressors.
The aim of the study was to describe the daily process of coping reported in a daily coping assessment by individuals with acute WAD within 1 month after the accident. More specifically, profiles of coping strategies were identified and patterns between stressors, primary and secondary appraisals, and coping strategy profiles were described in relation to reported level of activity, worries, depressed mood and pain intensity during the day.
A descriptive and exploratory design was applied. Two hundred and twenty-nine whiplash-associated disorders-daily coping assessment (WAD-DCA) collected during seven consecutive days from 51 participants with acute WAD in Sweden, were included. Cluster analysis was used to obtain coping strategy profiles and data were graphically visualised as patterns through the coping process.
When measuring coping as a daily process relating to the specific stressful situation, different coping process patterns appeared. During days with a high degree of physical and mental well-being, high self-efficacy beliefs seemed to be working as an important secondary appraisal, whereas during days with a low degree of physical and mental well-being primary appraisals of the stressor as a threat and catastrophic thoughts were present in the coping process.
Early identification of situational- and individual-specific stressors, appraisals and coping efforts as measured by the WAD-DCA may contribute to the understanding of the coping process in the acute stage of WAD and its possible impact on recovery and adjustment.