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Psychological predictors of headache remission in children and adolescents

Authors Carasco M, Kroener-Herwig B

Received 9 October 2015

Accepted for publication 22 January 2016

Published 21 April 2016 Volume 2016:7 Pages 59—66


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Steven Youngentob

Marcel Carasco, Birgit Kröner-Herwig
Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Georg-Elias-Müller-Institut für Psychologie, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany

Objective: Longitudinal studies on headaches often focus on the identification of risk factors for headache occurrence or “chronification”. This study in particular examines psychological variables as potential predictors of headache remission in children and adolescents.
Methods: Data on biological, social, and psychological variables were gathered by questionnaire as part of a large population-based study (N=5,474). Children aged 9 to 15 years who suffered from weekly headaches were selected for this study sample, N=509. A logistic regression analysis was conducted with remission as the dependent variable. In the first step sex, age, headache type, and parental headache history were entered as the control variables as some data already existed showing their predictive power. Psychological factors (dysfunctional coping strategies, internalizing symptoms, externalizing symptoms, anxiety sensitivity, somatosensory amplification) were entered in the second step to evaluate their additional predictive value.
Results: Highly dysfunctional coping strategies reduced the relative probability of headache remission. All other selected psychological variables reached no significance, ie, did not contribute additionally to the explanation of variance of the basic model containing sex and headache type. Surprisingly, parental headache and age were not predictive. The model explained only a small proportion of the variance regarding headache remission (R2=0.09 [Nagelkerke]).
Conclusion: Successful coping with stress in general contributed to remission of pediatric headache after 2 years in children aged between 9 and 15 years. Psychological characteristics in general had only small predictive value. The issue of remission definitely needs more scientific attention in empirical studies.

Keywords: headache disorders, children, remission, psychological factors, longitudinal study, prediction

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