Empowerment of personal injury victims through the internet: design of a randomized controlled trial

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Background: Research has shown that current claims settlement process can have a negative impact on psychological and physical recovery of personal injury (PI) victims. One of the explanations for the negative impact on health is that the claims settlement process is a stressful experience and victims suffer from renewed victimization caused by the claims settlement process. PI victims can experience a lack of information, lack of involvement, lack of 'voice', and poor communication. We present the first study that aims to empower PI victims with respect to the negative impact of the claims settlement process by means of an internet intervention.Methods/design: The study is a two armed, randomized controlled trial (RCT), in which 170 PI victims are randomized to either the intervention or control group. The intervention group will get access to a website providing 1) an information module, so participants learn what is happening and what to expect during the claims settlement process, and 2) an e-coach module, so participants learn to cope with problems they experience during the claims settlement process. The control group will get access to a website with hyperlinks to commonly available information only. Participants will be recruited via a PI claims settlement office. Participants are included if they have been involved in a traffic accident which happened less than two years ago, and are at least 18 years old.The main study parameter is the increase of empowerment within the intervention group compared to the control group. Empowerment will be measured by the mastery scale and a self-efficacy scale. The secondary outcomes are perceived justice, burden, well being, work ability, knowledge, amount of damages, and lawyer-client communication. Data are collected at baseline (T0 measurement before randomization), at three months, six months, and twelve months after baseline. Analyses will be conducted according to the intention-to-treat principle.Discussion: This study evaluates the effectiveness of an internet intervention aimed at empowerment of PI victims. The results will give more insight into the impact of compensation proceedings on health over time, and they can have important consequences for legal claims settlement. Strengths and limitations of this study are discussed.Trial registration: Netherlands Trial Register NTR2360. © 2011 Elbers et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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