Recurrent Headache, Coping, and Quality of Life in Children: A Review


Address all correspondence to Mrs. Inez Bandell-Hoekstra, Maastricht University, Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Health Care Studies, Centre for Nursing Research, PO Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands.


Objectives.–To clarify the concepts of coping with pain and quality of life (QoL) and to present a literature review of the strategies that children with recurrent headaches use to cope with their pain, the impact of recurrent headaches on children's QoL, and the influence of personal and situational variables on headache, coping, and QoL in children.

Methods.–The literature search encompassed published articles that were found by means of a CD-ROM search of MEDLINE (1966 to December 1998) and PsycLIT (1974 to December 1998) and the snowball method.

Results.–In pediatric headache research, only three studies have been found in which children report the use of various coping strategies, and only two studies considered QoL. Demographic factors and psychological variables such as depression, anger, and anxiety influence headache prevalence. The impact of headache-related variables such as headache type, severity, perceived cause, and prior experience on QoL has only been studied in adults.

Conclusions.–More research on coping and QoL is needed in pediatric headache. The conceptual model that is presented in this article may serve as a guide.