Expectations of recovery

Positive expectations of recovery are associated with good recovery, while negative expectations of recovery are associated with poorer recovery.

At the initial assessment, assess the patient's expectations of recovery by asking them: ‘Do you think you are going to get better soon?’

Examples of positive responses:

  • I am a positive person. I think I will get better soon.
  • I feel like I am making progress.

Examples of negative responses:

  • I have a lot of pain. I am worried that something is seriously wrong.
  • My doctor said that recovery from my type of injury takes a long time.
  • My friend had a whiplash injury and it took him a long time to get better. I think that might be the same for me too.

Recommended action

If the patient has a negative response, the patient should be monitored. If improvement/recovery is not occurring by three to six weeks post injury, consider referral to a clinician with expertise in the management of whiplash (P3, page 20 guidelines).

Ferrari, R. and D. Louw, Correlation between expectations of recovery and injury severity perception in whiplash-associated disorders.Journal of Zhejiang University SCIENCE B, 2011. 12(8): p. 683-686.