The relationship of chronic tension headache to individual and family stressors
Broyles, Susan Elizabeth
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Tension, or muscle contraction, headache is by definition associated with life stress. However, there has been relatively little empirical research on the role of naturally occurring stressors in causing tension headache. The current investigation sought to examine some psychological variables hypothesized to be related to chronic tension headache, particularly psychosocial factors. The temporal relationship of headache activity and stress was a major focus. A second purpose of the study was to investigate the family as a particularly salient environmental source of stress for the headache sufferer. Experimental subjects were 18 family pairs, with one member diagnosed as having chronic tension headache. Control subjects were 15 family pairs in which one member had recently sustained an orthopedic injury, resulting in pain. All subjects kept a 14-day diary, monitoring mood swings, the occurrence of stressful events, headache and other somatic complaints. Subjects participated in a semi-structured interview and completed questionnaires concerning depression, anxiety, physical complaints, life hassles, previous illness experiences, and family life. Analyses revealed moderate correlation between targets' average headache activity and average diary ratings of their own hassles and their families' hassle. Additionally, correlations between targets' average headache activity and their own average mood ratings and physical symptom ratings approached significance. Concerning temporal relationships, analyses revealed mild-to-moderate isomorphic correlations between target headache activity and diary ratings of target hassles. Cross-lagged correlations indicated daily headache fluctuations were also mildly-to-moderately related to target hassles from the previous day and the following day. Temporal results are discussed in terms of potential cause and consequence. Implications are discussed in terms of support for a multi-component model of chronic tension headache.
- Doctoral Dissertations