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Open Access Research

Effectiveness of a web-based intervention for injured claimants: a randomized controlled trial

Nieke A Elbers123*, Arno J Akkermans1, Pim Cuijpers23 and David J Bruinvels14

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Law, VU University, De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 Amsterdam, HV, The Netherlands

2 Department of Clinical Psychology, VU University, De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 Amsterdam, HV, The Netherlands

3 EMGO Institute, VU University Medical Center, Van der Boechorststraat 7, 1081 Amsterdam, BT, The Netherlands

4 Netherlands Society of Occupational Medicine (NVAB), Churchilllaan 11, 3527 Utrecht, GV, The Netherlands

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Trials 2013, 14:227  doi:10.1186/1745-6215-14-227

Published: 20 July 2013

Abstract

Background

There is considerable evidence showing that injured people who are involved in a compensation process show poorer physical and mental recovery than those with similar injuries who are not involved in a compensation process. One explanation for this reduced recovery is that the legal process and the associated retraumatization are very stressful for the claimant. The aim of this study was to empower injured claimants in order to facilitate recovery.

Methods

Participants were recruited by three Dutch claims settlement offices. The participants had all been injured in a traffic crash and were involved in a compensation process. The study design was a randomized controlled trial. An intervention website was developed with (1) information about the compensation process, and (2) an evidence-based, therapist-assisted problem-solving course. The control website contained a few links to already existing websites. Outcome measures were empowerment, self-efficacy, health status (including depression, anxiety, and somatic symptoms), perceived fairness, ability to work, claims knowledge and extent of burden. The outcomes were self-reported through online questionnaires and were measured four times: at baseline, and at 3, 6, and 12 months.

Results

In total, 176 participants completed the baseline questionnaire after which they were randomized into either the intervention group (nā€‰=ā€‰88) or the control group (nā€‰=ā€‰88). During the study, 35 participants (20%) dropped out. The intervention website was used by 55 participants (63%). The health outcomes of the intervention group were no different to those of the control group. However, the intervention group considered the received compensation to be fairer (P <0.01). The subgroup analysis of intervention users versus nonusers did not reveal significant results. The intervention website was evaluated positively.

Conclusions

Although the web-based intervention was not used enough to improve the health of injured claimants in compensation processes, it increased the perceived fairness of the compensation amount.

Trial registration

Netherlands Trial Register NTR2360

Keywords:
Injury compensation; Web-based intervention; Randomized controlled trial; E-health; Empowerment