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Klonowski, Theresa; Kropp, Peter; Straube, Andreas and Ruscheweyh, Ruth (2021): Psychological factors associated with headache frequency, intensity, and headache-related disability in migraine patients. In: Neurological Sciences, Vol. 43, No. 2: pp. 1255-1266

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Background Several psychological cofactors of migraine have been identified, but relationships to different headache parameters (e.g., headache frequency vs. headache-related disability) are only incompletely understood. Methods We cross-sectionally assessed 279 migraine patients at their first presentation at our tertiary headache center. We obtained headache and acute medication frequency, pain intensity, the Migraine Disability Assessment Scale (MIDAS), and the Pain Disability Index (PDI) as headache-related outcomes as well as scores of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), the Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS), Pain-Related Control Scale (PRCS), and Avoidance Endurance Questionnaire (AEQ) as psychological factors. Results Linear regression models revealed the highest associations of the psychological factors with the PDI (adjusted R-2 = 0.296, p < 0.001, independent predictors: PCS, AEQ social avoidance, depression) followed by the MIDAS (adjusted R-2 = 0.137, p < 0.001, predictors: depression, AEQ social avoidance) and headache frequency (adjusted R-2 = 0.083, p < 0.001, predictors: depression, AEQ humor/distraction). Principal component analysis corroborated that psychological factors were preferentially associated with the PDI, while the MIDAS loaded together with headache frequency. Conclusion Our results suggest that psychological factors are more strongly associated with the subjective degree of headache-related disability measured by the PDI than with the days with disability (MIDAS) or the more objective parameter of headache frequency. This once again highlights the need for comprehensive assessment of migraine patients with different headache parameters and the need for considering psychological treatment, especially in patients with high disability.

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