Migraine and Stress : An Internet administered Multimodal Behavioral Treatment Intervention

Abstract: Migraine is a disabling neurological disorder with high prevalence, the clinical manifestations of which are highly dependent on stress.The overall theme of the present thesis was to address aspects of stress in migraine. A multimodal behavioral treatment (MBT) program was developed specifically designed for migraine and focusing on stress as a trigger and an intervention was performed using this Internet-administered program. Migraine symptoms were followed via an Internet administered diary and questionnaires were answered at regular intervals during the 11-month study period.The thesis is based on four papers: In Paper I, life events and current stress, personality traits, and gender were studied cross-sectionally in 106 women and 44 men with migraine, who suffered at least two attacks a month at inclusion. Paper II describes a randomized controlled trial of the MBT program performed on 58 women and 25 men recruited from participants of the study described in Paper I. In the MBT study participants were randomized into one control group and two MBT groups, one of which received hand massage as part of the treatment. In Paper III, complete migraine drug use and changes in use and in drug efficacy during the MBT program were studied. In Paper IV, the salivary cortisol levels of MBT participants were evaluated as a biological stress marker.The MBT program proved effective in decreasing migraine headache; it was feasible and there was low attrition. Moreover, MBT resulted in decreased migraine drug use and increased drug efficacy, but had no discernible effects on salivary cortisol profiles. No effect of hand massage on migraine headache frequency was seen. Personality trait profiling revealed high scores for the neuroticism factor. Stress susceptibility was the single most aberrant personality trait and correlated highly with the reported level of current stress and with experienced negative life events.Gender differences included higher scores for women on trait anxiety, negative life events, depressive mood, anxiety, tension type headache, use of triptans, and efficacy of analgesics, whereas men displayed higher use of analgesics.In conclusion, the efficacy and low attrition associated with the present MBT program appears promising and timely with regard to the development of better and more accessible migraine treatment. Stress susceptibility, gender, negative life events and psychosomatic comorbidity are important factors to consider in relation to the care of persons with migraine.

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