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June 1995

Headache Symptoms and Psychological Profile of Headache-Prone Individuals: A Comparison of Clinic Patients and Controls

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Neurology, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City.

Arch Neurol. 1995;52(6):602-606. doi:10.1001/archneur.1995.00540300076016

Objective:  To compare the psychological characteristics of headache sufferers who seek medical assistance with those who do not.

Subjects:  Fifty-one patients seeking medical help for their headache and 53 controls who had not sought medical assistance for their headache within the past 2 years. All subjects completed a structured interview that gathered headache data according to the International Headache Society classification criteria and the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-Revised (MMPI-2).

Design:  A 2×2 design was employed. Subject group (patient vs control) was the first factor and headache type (migraine vs mixed) was the second.

Setting:  University medical center outpatient headache clinic.

Results:  Patient and control groups did not differ in age, education, gender, or number of individuals with migraine. The only headache characteristic distinguishing the groups was that clinic patients rated their "most severe headache" as more intense than did controls. On the MMPI-2, the clinic group scored significantly higher on the Hypochondriasis, Depression, Hysteria, Psychasthenia, and Social Introversion scales than did controls. Severity of headache was not responsible for this difference, since it was used as a covariate in the analysis. There were no significant differences on the MMPI-2 for headache type, nor were there any significant interactions.

Conclusions:  These results were discussed in light of previous studies. It was concluded that psychological characteristics are important factors in the decision to seek medical help for headache.

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