The objective of this study was to explore whether neck-specific exercise, with or without a behavioural approach, has benefits after 1 and 2 years compared with prescribed physical activity regarding pain, self-rated functioning/disability, and self-efficacy in management of chronic whiplash. Participants were randomized to 1 of 3 exercise interventions: neck-specific exercise with or without a behavioural approach, or physical activity prescription. Self-rated pain (visual analogue scale), disability/functioning (Neck Disability Index/Patient Specific Functional Scale) and self-efficacy (Self-Efficacy Scale) were evaluated after 1 and 2 years. Both neck-specific exercise groups maintained more improvement regarding disability/functioning than the prescribed physical activity group at both time-points (p ≤ 0.02). At 1 year, 61% of subjects in the neck-specific group reported at least 50% pain reduction, compared with 26% of those in the physical activity prescription group (p < 0.001), but at 2 years the difference was not significant.
After 1-2 years, participants with chronic whiplash who were randomized to neck-specific exercise, with or without a behavioural approach, remained more improved than participants who were prescribed general physical activity.